5 Fundamental Life Science and Biotech Focus Areas for the UK Government
Ahead of next month’s keynote panel on the future of life science investment in the UK at Biotech and Money London, where George Freeman, Minister for Life Sciences, will be joined by a panel of some of the industry’s key leaders, I’ve been pondering what the defining challenges are for the government.
We’ve asked the panel to consider the following during the discussion:
- What should be the political and strategic priorities on health and industrial investment and growth policies
- How can the UK drive the Life Science investment agenda
- How to drive innovation adoption
- How can the NHS better stimulate investment and growth
Here are what I believe to be the fundamental challenges that the industry faces - and therefore where the government should be channeling it’s energies:
1) Market Access
The biggest issue for pharma is market access. A pharma company can easily spend up to 15 years and more than $1bn developing a new medicine, have it pass through all the regulatory hurdles, but then be thwarted by NICE, which decides which drugs the NHS should pay for.
The government should focus on finding a way to make the market access scheme in the UK more sustainable - as clearly in its current guise it is not workable, and will only lead to the UK losing out to global competition for investment.
Drug prices have come under intense scrutiny this past year as new drugs (notably oncology medicines), are reaching the £100,000 per patient marker. In this new age of ‘value for money’ in healthcare, clearly this is something that needs addressing.If government can encourage earlier access to medicines and an improved market access scheme, then pharma should spend less on its R&D and get its drugs out on the market more quickly - translating into lower prices, as the need for re-investment would be lower.
3) Precision Medicine
I would argue that key to fostering a better environment for investment in the UK will be a determined focus on nurturing the new 21st landscape of precision medicine. Focusing on getting the right drugs, to the right patient, at the right time.
As Freeman explains in a recent interview:“We need to make sure that we are giving the right drugs to the right patients by targeting better, and to also take time out of the development timeline - these are all major ‘value steps’ which will then allow us to have a conversation with the industry about how best to use the NHS budget to maximum effect.”
4) Innovation Adoption
There needs to be a better way to ensure innovation not only is developed efficiently, but is adopted and translated into practice as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The formation of the Academic Health Science Networks is central to that mission and is already yielding great results. The more support that the government can lend to initiatives such as these will be critical to the overall success of promoting UK plc as a investment destination.
Of course, a fundamental driver of investment will be the quality of research that is coming out of the UK. Therefore, the government must do all it can to maintain the nation’s status as a leading centre of life science research and innovation.
Speaking to people like David Roblin, Chief Operating Officer at the Francis Crick Institute, (also speaking at our event by the way), and several high flying pharma execs, there does seem to be a consensus that Britain is indeed in pole position on this front.
Government policies such as the R&D tax credits certainly help - but MPs must be watchful that the incentives continue to exist to ensure academic excellence can continue to thrive.
To discuss the above - and more - George Freeman will be joined by the following executives on the morning of 3rd February at Biotech and Money London
Zahid Latif, Head of Healthcare, Innovate UK
Nicole Mather, Director, Office of Life Sciences, BIS
Sir Chris Evans, Chairman, Excalibur Group
Keith Thompson, CEO, Cell Therapy Catapult
The session will be chaired by Andrew Ward, Pharmaceuticals Correspondent, FT
For the complete agenda of the event, click here
Download the brochure to see the full list of speakers and who will be joining them