You cannot introduce more tech to a broken system, says GSK

While emerging technologies are “exceptional,” GSK says we cannot keep adding innovation to a system that is beyond sustainable capacity.

Millie Nelson, Editor

June 6, 2024

2 Min Read

“I genuinely believe this is a unique moment where we can now foresee a world where we can deal with the big drivers of diseases [and] technology is the integrator for that,” said Sir Jonathan Symonds, chair of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), at Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week (ADGHW) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Despite the development of various “exceptional” technologies in the biotech space, Symonds told delegates: “It has got to get to the point where health systems want to consume it.” He urged the need for “all countries […] to move to a system perspective” because “we are already at economic costs of health that are beyond sustainable capacity.”

With the biotech space having an overarching and all-encompassing goal of manufacturing drugs for patients at speed and more cost effective, the never-ending emergence of technologies can be viewed in both a positive and negative light.

With an abundance of “new therapeutics, new diagnostics, and new devices […] the solution cannot be [that] you take the system and keep adding [to it].” Instead, “both worlds have got to be redesigned.” From a biotech point of view, Symonds told the audience that companies which create these technologies need to be able to demonstrate “how we improve health outcomes, and the economic cost of those deliveries.”  

He added: “there is an onus on us to demonstrate that we are bringing incremental value to the system.”

The need for convergence

In a similar fashion, there are also changes needed to be made by health systems to unlock the full potential of technologies in the sector.

“I think that health systems have got to recognize that actually, the cost of what we are spending is not just how to make people better, but how to create more economic and social capacity. With low birth rates, ageing populations, and increasing incidences of chronic disease, every year a nation's economic and social capacity will decline. So, we have got to work out how do these advances using innovation improve not just health, but economic and social outcomes?”

Symonds comments echoed the theme of ADGHW, which focused on shifting from healthcare to health and the need for entities to come together to achieve this. While he described this situation as “one of the big challenges,” he said he believes “governments are recognizing that we are dealing with economic and social problems, not just in health, and once you have opened that up there is a return of investment (ROI) economically and to us as innovators on how to deploy these new technologies.”

With a system “already at capacity,” the “two have to converge” as it is not feasible “to keep introducing new technologies.”

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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