MHRA_banners_720x215_find_moreAs is typically seen in run up to the end of a parliament and the official government announcement shutdown called “purdah”, we saw a flurry of last minute government announcements released last week. It was great to see BIA members Autifony Therapeutics and eXmoor Pharma Concepts amongst the industry winners in the latest round of Biomedical Catalyst funding. With total investment now at £350 million, the Biomedical Catalyst has helped accelerate the development of a number of innovative treatments and products to enable real patient benefits over the last few years. It’s critical that whoever holds the keys to power after the General Election gets behind the continuation of this scheme that has done so much to drive innovation.

Also on funding, the latest round of Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst awards were announced last week, and Vince Cable revealed details of 20 projects given conditional offers for the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) – including an exciting new manufacturing design processes project campaigned for by the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP). This is a fantastic achievement arising out of the MMIP. The investment is a positive step towards increasing the UK’s prominence in medicine manufacturing and also in safeguarding and creating jobs. It was also great to see a further £6.2 million grant awarded to a consortium of BIA members – the Centre for Process Innovation, UCB Celltech, Lonza Biologics, Sphere Fluidics, Horizon Discovery and Alcyomics – as part of a project to adopt innovative technologies emerging from UK SMEs to improve the supply chain for biologic medicinal products.

Congratulations to all who received funding, and also to RedX Pharma who successfully listed on AIM last Friday.

In other government news, the Regenerative Medicine Expert Group (RMEG) report was published on Tuesday. As part of the panel, alongside BIA’s Cell Therapy and Regen Med Advisory Committee Chair Professor Chris Mason, I’ve been closely involved with the group, representing the needs of the UK’s regen med industry. The report addresses important issues that directly affect the UK’s attractiveness as a location to develop regenerative medicines – one of the Chancellor’s eight great technologies – and it rightly recognises that effective uptake in the NHS is absolutely critical for this. You can read more on our response to the report in our press release, and BIA member Pinsent Masons have written us a guest blog discussing the report, which you can find here. A member briefing is being prepared by our Head of Regulatory Affairs, Christiane Abouzeid.

Also taking place last Tuesday, I was delighted to be invited along to Guy’s hospital to hear more about Life Science Minister George Freeman’s Accelerated Access Review of Innovative Medicines and Medical Technologies (formerly known as the Innovative Medicines and Med Tech Review). In his speech, Freeman was keen to emphasise that the review would focus on tangible outcomes – the overall objective being for the UK to be the best place in the world to innovate and develop med tech and medicines and for “the FDA to look to the UK with fear”. Interim recommendations are expected to be published around September/October. We also heard details on the appointment of the Advisory Board – a stellar cast of 17, to include Kate Bingham, of BIA member SV Life Sciences. The Advisory Board will split itself and the work, as set out in the Terms of Reference, into workstreams which will be developed in partnership with the civil service secretariat team during purdah. The BIA will continue to engage with the review and we’ll keep you updated on any developments as and when they occur.

In another move to inspire innovation across healthcare in the UK, NHS England and the government  have launched their ‘test bed’ initiative to trial new ways of improving care for patients as part of the NHS Five Year Forward View, and are calling for expressions of interest from innovators from any sector in the UK and overseas who want to test their ideas to deliver health services in better ways at scale and in a real clinical setting. You can find out more on the initiative here.

There was also progress on the 100 000 Genomes Project, as Genomics England announced the first ten companies – including BIA members AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Biogen, GSK, Takeda and UCB – to come forward to create the GENE Consortium. The consortium will undertake a year-long industry trial involving a selection of whole genome sequences across cancer and rare diseases, discovering how best to collaborate with clinicians and researchers, and identify the most effective way of bringing industry expertise into the project in order to realise the potential benefits for patients.

On the regulatory front, the fifth MHRA Innovation Office case study, featuring BIA member BTG and developed with the support of our Manufacturing Advisory Committee, was published on Thursday. The study details the MHRA’s involvement in the development of a UK manufacturing site for a novel drug-device combination product – click here to view the case study and have a read.

From next week government goes into purdah, so we can expect a bit of a breather from announcements. We’ll continue to work on the ongoing Nurse Review and the NHS England consultation on specialised services. If you’d like to engage please contact Zoe Freeman.

A quick reminder that if you missed Thursday’s webinar on the Budget, it’s now available to view online here. And finally, Newscast will be taking a break over Easter – we’ll be back on 13 April.

Enjoy the Easter break,

Steve