BIO2016_arrivedGreetings from across the pond this week as we’re out at BIO representing the UK biotech sector – find out more about our trip here. The UK continues to play a leading role in the global bioscience policy. This year I am looking forward to global reaction to the publication of the final findings of the O’Neill review into antimicrobial resistance – updates to follow on my return next week and I hope to catch up with many of you over the next few days.

It was interesting to see the first statistics on PRIME (PRIority MEdicines) scheme released last week, with four medicines in development accepted – something I look forward to discussing later this week when I meet with Professor Guido Rasi, EMA Executive Director, at BIO. Advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs), which comprise gene and cell therapies, are likely to be another topic up for discussion, following a multi-stakeholder meeting to explore ways to foster ATMP development and expand patient access. A report from the meeting can be found here, which summarises the main ideas and solutions proposed during the meeting, as well as responses sent by participants ahead of the meeting via a questionnaire.

It was a busy week on policy last week with three submissions, including our response to the Government’s National Innovation Plan call for ideas. In our response, we have urged the government to refinance the Biomedical Catalyst so that it can continue to support early-stage research conducted by life science companies and proposed new finance incentives to raise private sector R&D investment. We have also set out over-arching principles that should be considered as the government develops the new innovation non-grant finance products announced at Autumn Statement 2015.  Elsewhere in the submission, we call for reimbursement for medicines delivered through the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) and put forward proposals for new “Hospitals of the Future” – joint-industry-NHS ventures that will nurture supply chains for the delivery of innovative advanced therapies to patients. Our full submission can be downloaded from our website here.

As the run up to the EU Referendum shortens, we have also submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Health Select Committee, which is holding a short enquiry into the impact of EU membership on UK health policy. Our submission highlights the benefits of membership, including harmonised regulation, EU initiatives to accelerate patient access to  medicines, and access to EU research funding. The Committee will not be publishing a report ahead of the referendum but has held oral evidence hearing sessions, which can be viewed and read here. The BIA’s submission can be downloaded from our website.

Finally, the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has also held a consultation on Regenerative Medicine, which posed a timely opportunity to reflect on recent developments in the ATMP space. With input from BIA’s Cell and Gene Therapy and Manufacturing Advisory Committees, we highlighted a number of actions that policymakers must take to fully exploit the UK’s strengths in this field, and for the benefit of UK patients. These include ensuring the ‘pull’ factor of an NHS that is committed and able to be an early and extensive adopter of these medicines, heeding the forthcoming recommendations of the Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Taskforce, and incorporating such considerations into the National Innovation Plan. Furthermore, investors and companies must be given stability and the confidence to invest, with a long-term strategy for UK regenerative medicine that includes maintaining vital support via Innovate UK, the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and relevant Research Councils. Read our full response here.

Chair of the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee, Nicola Blackwood, will be speaking on the role of government in accelerating science and technology at the Department of Pharmacology, Oxford University, next Thursday 16 June. If you’re interested in attending, get in touch with Carolyn Thackrah. Her speech will begin at 5pm followed by a drinks reception at 6pm.


On BIA events, I’m looking forward to the latest in our series of Women in Biotech events next week and, with less than three weeks to go, don’t forget to sign up to our UK CEO and Investor Forum – read our taster of what to expect from the day on the blog.

And finally, a quick reminder on EuropaBio’s Most Innovative European Biotech SME Award – applications must be received by 27 June, so do take a look and get your application in over the next couple of weeks. More information and the application form can be found here.

If you’re out at BIO, remember to drop by the UK stand, 5744.