Last Tuesday we celebrated International Women’s Day in great company at our latest Women in Biotech (WIB) event, with some of our industry’s great female leaders. Our panellists shared their thoughts on their experiences and careers to date, exploring existing challenges and plans to improve workplace diversity. The importance of mentorship, a recurrent theme at many recent BIA events, was again echoed by both Brenda Reynolds, CEO, Calchan, and also Instinctif Partners’ Melanie Toyne-Sewell, who highlighted the support of Managing Partner, Sue Charles, in nurturing and developing their successful female-led team. From a European perspective, Nathalie Moll, Secretary General of EuropaBio, spoke about the different environment in cities across Europe. We have some great female talent in the UK biotech sector and it was fantastic to see so many of you last Tuesday. Our Women in Biotech network runs events through the year – our next gathering will take place on 15 June (more info here) and you can also join our WIB LinkedIn group to keep up to date.

On regulatory matters, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) launched its new PRIME (PRIority Medicines) scheme to strengthen support for the development of medicines that target unmet medical needs and earlier access to these medicines by patients. We welcome the EMA launch of PRIME as providing greater opportunities for UK life science companies to get their ground-breaking treatments to the patients that need them. We have seen a real interest from members eager to engage with the scheme. The BIA has played an active role in influencing the development of PRIME to represent the views of UK companies and this has been an excellent example of Europe wide collaboration to build a scheme that tackles unmet medical need.

Prime focuses on medicines that will provide benefits for patients that currently do not have any treatment options for their disease or that have major therapeutic advantages over the existing treatments. The scheme will also help to speed up the translation of new medicines by offering specific support to SMEs and the academic sector who will be able to apply at an earlier stage providing that they have compelling non-clinical data and tolerability data from initial clinical trials.

For more information on Prime and to find out how your organisation can apply, go to the EMA website. PRIME will be discussed in further detail at the BIA/MHRA joint regulatory conference on 4 May this year – go to the conference website to view the full programme and book your place.

A quick note of congratulations to BIA member GW Pharmaceuticals, who today announced positive phase 3 pivotal trial results in Dravet syndrome – a rare and severe form of epilepsy in children. Great news for a home-grown company and to see developments in an area for which there are no approved treatments in the US and a significant unmet need.

The big event this week will be the Budget, which takes place on Wednesday. As ever, the BIA will be monitoring its delivery closely on the day and will provide an overview of the implications for our sector in due course. For more immediate updates on the day, do follow our Twitter account @BIA_UK.

Finally, one to note for those of you involved in cell and gene therapies, registration is now open for the NICE Scientific Advice seminar “Exploring HTA evidence generation requirements for developers of Cell and Gene Therapies”. The seminar will be held on Thursday 28 April 2016 at the NICE offices in London.  More information can be found on the Scientific Advice webpage here.