U.K.'s NHS considers commercial services; Big Pharma intrigued

In a move to generate revenue in a down economy, the U.K.'s National Health Service is planning to offer its services abroad, looking to work with international CROs, pharma companies and healthcare providers.

The model is fairly simple: The NHS will leverage its "world-class reputation" to set up operations around the world, U.K. Health Minister Anne Milton told The Guardian, offering clinical services to private firms and governments. The organization is modeling its plan after the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital, which have profited from similar arrangements. And, as Outsourcing-Pharma reports, the NHS has already gotten interest from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and AstraZeneca ($AZN).

But is it a good idea for a public provider to get into private business? Some consumer groups in the U.K. say the NHS should focus on the ailing at home who face increasing wait times and slashed healthcare budgets, not chase profits abroad with a "concerning distraction," Patients Association CEO Katherine Murphy told The Guardian.

The country's Department of Health insists otherwise. The influx of cash from private clients will boost the standard of care for U.K. patients, Milton said, and the organization will be able to create jobs by grabbing a stake in booming life sciences industries around the world.

The U.K. Trade & Investment department said the idea is not just a gamble with public pounds: The NHS's international expansion would be funded with money outside the organization's budget for the treatment of tax-paying Britons, a spokesman told Outsourcing-Pharma.

- read the Guardian report
- get more from Outsourcing-Pharma

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