Gauke_SBC_600x300Those of you who are regular Radio 4 listeners in the early hours may have heard me make a brief appearance on this morning’s Today programme, talking about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Published in today’s FT, as we enter World Antibiotic Awareness Week (with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Wednesday) we’ve written a joint letter urging the UK government to take a global lead by implementing a new economic model that encourages the development of much needed new antibiotics. Already antimicrobial resistance claims the lives of 25,000 people every year in Europe, and this is expected to rise to 390,000 deaths every year by 2050. Globally, the annual death rate is expected to rise to 10m by 2050 and cost the world economy $100tn a year. While new global systems are being established the government must consider an alternative national reimbursement model for antibiotics that encourages new antibiotic development, securing the future of antibiotics in the short and medium term. You can read the letter in full here, plus coverage in the FT and BBC. You can also listen again to the Today programme (from 25 mins in).

Last week we were delighted to meet with Treasury Minister David Gauke MP at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (pictured). The Minister has previously taken the time to visit other BIA companies so it was great to build on his interest and introduce him to the facilities incorporated at the Catalyst as well as meeting with CEOs from companies at or close by to the Catalyst to discuss a variety of issues of mutual interest.

Last Thursday, to coincide with this year’s Alliance for Regenerative Medicine European Investor Day, of which the BIA is the regional partner, we launched a new briefing paper on Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs). The briefing paper reveals a significant new level of interest in cell and gene therapies in 2015 and showcases the BIA’s work in this area to raise awareness around regulatory changes for 2016 that will impact on the development of ATMPs. It’s vital that the UK becomes not just a great laboratory for ATMPs but a great place for them to be commercialised. In this the UK faces stiff competition from Japan where the possibility to gain reimbursement after conditional approval is making it an attractive market for the development of ATMPs. The BIA will focus on strategies for making ATMPs profitable therapies addressing unmet medical needs – not just clever science with regulatory approval, and look forward to working with members on this next step of the journey.

The Investor Day itself included some great company presentations, showcasing just a taster of the fantastic developments being made in the field across Europe. For a re-cap of the day, check out this Storify from GE Healthcare’s Conor McKechnie.

Also taking place last week, BioInfect saw Lord Jim O’Neill take to the stage to present the findings from the independent review on AMR, including his ten point plan for beating drug resistance. His slides are available to view here and you can get all the stories from the day by searching #BioInfect on Twitter.

We’ll be heading back up to Manchester this week for our CEO Dinner and the latest in our series of BIA Breakfasts, with speakers Dr Gareth King from the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Life Science fund, Dr Stephen Little, CEO of Premaitha Health and Ned Wakeman, Director of Biohub at Alderley Park. Our CEO Dinner promises to be great evening of discussion and debate, with a focus on the Spending Review ahead of the big event next Wednesday. More updates to follow next week.

It’s another busy week for the sector with the FT Global Pharma and Biotech, Consilium Investor Relations and Jeffries Healthcare conferences all taking place in London, and we’ll be heading to the Wellcome Genome Campus, Hinxton on Friday for BioBeat15. The campus in Hinxton is also the chosen location for the 12th Annual bioProcessUK Conference taking place next week – there’s still time to register to attend if you haven’t already done so. View the full line-up here.

And finally, I’m sorry to say that Karen Chandler-Smith, the BIA’s Director of Business Development and Membership Services, has decided to leave the BIA after nine highly successful years. Karen has been the driving force behind a host of BIA successes. She has not only masterminded our highly successful events programme with its keynote Gala Dinner but also created from scratch the award winning UK Bioscience Forum. Karen’s calm presence organizing the UK company stands at the annual BIO conference in the USA will be sorely missed by BIA members large and small. We wish Karen success in her new role helping establish the UK’s Precision Medicine Catapult and look forward to working with her there. As a result we are recruiting her replacement – more information can be found on our website.