Frederick_Sanger_600_300This week the UK’s Ministerial Industry Strategy Group (MISG) meets. It’s a high-level policy advisory group, which meets twice a year and upon which the BIA sits with Ministers from BIS, Treasury and the Department of Health. It aims to promote a strong and profitable UK-based bio-pharmaceutical industry capable of sustained research. I’ll be championing the needs of our members as always, and for the first time in years a paper on the UK’s important biopharma manufacturing capabilities has been prepared and will be discussed. I’ll update next week on progress.

It’s timely because next week the 10th Annual bioProcessUK Conference ‘Biopharmaceutical Innovation, a Vision for the Future’ will take place in London. Delegates at this event, which is now fully booked, will hear about how companies innovate to improve their global competitiveness in biopharmaceuticals, as well as understanding future bioprocessing needs, and more. If you’re there, do stop me to say hello.

Last Friday in an unusual move the UK government announced that it plans to hold a public consultation on what was until now a private members Medical Innovation Bill. The bill promoted by Lord Saatchi seeks to encourage innovation in the medical treatment of patients by reducing the risk of litigation for doctors who try an alternative treatment option. Currently, the law obliges doctors to follow standard procedures, which means that new discoveries can only be tested with a risk of being charged with medical negligence. Now there is a public consultation on the proposal in early 2014, so the BIA will be feeding in views. Together with the recent call from the Experts Group for healthcare regulation that government implement an Earlier Access to medicines Scheme, there are positive signs that making UK healthcare more innovation-friendly is on the political agenda.

The Genesis conference is now only a couple of weeks away, on Thursday 12 December. Our partners One Nucleus are focusing on ‘Innovative Strategies to Bridge the R&D Gap in Life Sciences’. BIA members receive a 10% discount on the non member delegate rate.

Finally, last week saw some sad news in the passing of two-time Nobel prize winner Frederick Sanger (pictured above), at the age of 95. As the so-called ‘father of genomics’ and the namesake of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Sanger’s work – entirely done in the UK – was instrumental in the modern revolution in understanding of genetics and genomics which underpins the biotechnology sector today.