It’s been a week since the Westminster launch of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences. A packed room of over 130 heard from Kit Malthouse MP, the Chair of the Group and Life Sciences Minister George Freeman MP and it was great to see political support for the importance of this group underlined in such a way. The Secretariat for the Group will be provided by Life Sciences UK, which comprises the BIA, alongside the ABPI, ABHI and BIVDA and the objective of the group is to be a Westminster home for discussion and awareness building of the sector with Parliamentarians. It was great to have such support for the Group’s first event and we’ll keep you posted on future plans for the Autumn.
Last week also saw Amgen’s first partnering day in the UK – with Senior execs from one of our larger members flying in to London to explain their strategy whilst strengthening their relationship with the UK ecosystem. It was good to see many BIA members at the event which our United Life Science partner One Nucleus took the lead on organising – partnership in practice. The feedback from both Amgen and smaller companies has been positive and I think it testament to the strength of the UK that Amgen see value in building their equity investments, joint ventures, early-stage partnerships, limited partnership investments, collaborations, in- and out-licensing, and acquisitions here. I hope for future similar events and would welcome feedback from those who attended.
The findings of the MHRA triennial review were published last week, following the submission of our response and feedback in January this year. Our feedback was positive, emphasising the need for the MHRA’s role to be re-confirmed and that the Agency should be adequately resourced to continue its functions and maintain its position as a leading regulatory authority with the ability to influence internationally. Therefore we were pleased to see the review conclude that the MHRA performs well in the delivery of its functions and should continue to operate as an executive agency of the Department of Health.
We look forward to working with the MHRA in taking forward Recommendation 10 from the review, which states that the Agency contributes “by working in partnership with industry, medical research bodies and other organisations” “to develop approaches for early engagement in the medicines and devices development process”; I’m delighted to see this government endorsement of our joint working approach which should now lead to close cooperation during the development of the Accelerated Access Review. You can download the full report here, with details of all recommendations.
In other government news, the new Science and Technology Committee took oral evidence on 15 July from Jo Johnson MP, the minister for science, as well as national academies and also launched its first inquiry last Tuesday into the science budget. The Committee invites written submissions by Wednesday 26 August so please get in touch if you’d like to input. This is a key inquiry ahead of the upcoming Spending Review (now confirmed to take place on 25 November) and Committee sessions will take place in the autumn.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is also running a stakeholder survey on the Register of People with Significant Control (PSC register), a requirement for UK companies under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 from January 2016. BIS is further assessing the costs and benefits of the PSC register protection regime and welcomes your help in gathering further evidence by completing a short questionnaire.
CaSE is also running a survey, asking for evidence of the the impact of immigration on UK science and engineering, and the effect of Government policy on the UK’s ability to attract the best scientists and engineers from around the world which I’d encourage you to take a look at.
Finally, ending on a couple of sector news stories from last week. You can’t have missed the coverage on Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s candidate, solanezumab, from the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, indicating it may slow the pace of the disease in those with early stage Alzheimer’s. It’s hard not to be optimistic, however further trial results due to report next year should indicate whether we are on the brink of the first disease-modifying medication for Alzheimer’s.
I’d also like to draw your attention to this article from the Huffington Post, following the approval of B&K’s new breeding facility in Yorkshire earlier this month. If you have ten minutes over lunch, I’d highly recommend giving it a read to find out more about animal testing in the UK and the arguments for having such a facility based here.