IP_Top_Trends_London_600_300Whilst many in the sector are in Turin this week at BIO Europe (enjoy the partnering) my focus is on Westminster as we await expected announcements from the Department of Health on the Early Access scheme (see this piece in the Telegraph). We are publishing a new document this week on the complex issues behind rare disease drug commissioning which will inform our submission to NICE on how they approach assessing these highly innovative drugs. I have had useful discussions with many members who are following the Soliris assessment and the precedent it may set for other innovative drugs, and I would welcome input from others. The NICE ask seems to be advocating a cost plus approach to pricing which is about as far away from value based pricing as you can get. One of my main aims is to get government to see the impact of all its policies in the round – and this is one area where I don’t think there is a consistent picture yet.

The same cannot be said in manufacturing however, where the biopharmaceutical industry in the UK has established a Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) to provide a single voice to position the UK as a world leading economy for existing and advanced medicines manufacturing capability. This will complement the existing strengths that exist in UK life sciences research and development base. Following discussions at the Ministerial Industry Strategy Group (MISG) for the pharmaceutical sector, the MMIP will mobilise the resources and commitment of industry, government and other interested stakeholders. The MMIP will create an ambitious joint work programme on technology and innovation, skills, and regulation to ensure that the UK becomes the place to manufacture medicines. Work streams to address these topics will be coordinated by a steering group led by Ian McCubbin, SVP North America, Japan & Global Pharma Supply, GSK, with secretariat support jointly provided by ourselves and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). Contact Rob Winder if you are interested in finding out more.

Also on the manufacturing side it was good to see that GlaxoSmithKline have become the second life sciences company, after Oxford BioMedica, to win funding under the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI). £11 million of funding will go to a consortium of 22 life sciences companies led by GSK for a £23 million project with the aim of transforming the way the UK life sciences sector manufactures medicines.

Last week we said goodbye to our second Cogent placement intern, Chandni. Chandni helped organise our recent Parliament Day and has written a blog about her experiences at the BIA. We are now looking for another placement intern to help with our communications over the next few months.

My local MP and the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Chuka Umunna has started to outline Labour’s plans for the economy if they should win the next election. It is good to see him recognise that investment horizons for business stretch well into the next decade and that those of government should too. He has outlined that Labour’s vision for 2030 is a high-productivity, high-skilled, innovation-led economy. The BIA has been engaging with Chuka and his Labour colleagues and as we develop our manifesto for the next election will continue to do so.

This year the Medical Research Council is undertaking a next destination survey of its PhD students, Fellows, and Post-Doctoral researchers supported by MRC grants during the 1990s and 2000s, to better understand the range of research career pathways available to medical research scientists, and the hurdles and blockers they may face in pursuing a research career. Please complete their survey.

It was good to see a good turnout for the Top Trends in IP event last Wednesday. If you weren’t able to make it we are running an event with the same programme at lunchtime on 20 March in Cambridge.