John Burt and David Gauke MP at PolyTherics

Last week we held three excellent events that highlighted the work we do with both regulators and politicians.

Our workshop on the Voluntary Harmonisation Procedure for multinational clinical trials in Europe brought together senior experts from regulatory agencies and industry, contract research organisations, academic institutions, clinical trial units and medical research charities to share their experience with the Voluntary Harmonisation Procedure (VHP), which delivers significant benefits for the conduct of multinational clinical trials in Europe. The workshop was particularly timely given the recent changes to VHP and we were delighted that Dr Hartmut Krafft, Chair CTFG/VHP-Coordinator, and Head, Section Clinical Trials at the Paul Ehrlich Institute, gave the keynote presentation on VHP (available here). He provided an overview of the key facts and main features of the new version of the VHP guidance (version 3.1) and experience with the VHP over the last 5 years.

On the same day, 25 senior sector stakeholders with an interest in rare diseases joined our roundtable discussion in the House of Commons. The meeting, chaired by Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, had a particular focus on the new arrangements for evaluating and commissioning Highly Specialised Technologies (HSTs) across England and the devolved administrations following changes to the structure. Joining Mr Miller were the Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the Health Select Committee, Iain Wright MP, Shadow Business Minister, and Lord Turnberg who were able to share their expertise, views and pose a number of interesting policy questions to the attendees.

Parliament Day is our flagship advocacy event of the year. It helps us to represent the sector’s top policy needs to senior policymakers across Westminster and Whitehall and setting up our policy-driven activity for the year ahead. Next year, Parliament Day is on 30 January. If you are interested in more details please contact Zoe Freeman. Following on from engagement at this year’s Parliament Day, David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, visited BIA member company PolyTherics at the London BioScience Innovation Centre. The Minister was interested to know about the availability of skilled biotech workers and the importance of retaining intellectual property in the UK, in addition to the more regular financial issues of R+D tax credits and corporation tax.

Our charity partner for 2013 is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. In November our Public Affairs and Communications Executive, Zoe Freeman, will be tackling the “Survival of the Fittest” 10k assault course to help raise money for the CF Trust. You can support them via Zoe’s Just Giving page.

This week, the BIA is leading, alongside UKTI, a trade mission for 12 UK companies to the AusBiotech 2013 conference in Brisbane and to meet a number of other Australian companies in Melbourne. Next week we will, alongside BioPartner UK, be leading a UK delegation to BIO Europe including the Mayor Of London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Kit Malthouse. As well as helping companies make new links and gain business we’re also using our twitter feed to provide a snapshot of what’s going on if you’re not there.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Vienna next week