The pivotal week of the year coming up for the sector. Ahead of the crucial EU referendum vote on Thursday (we’ll be publishing a special member briefing on Friday with what the sector needs to know), I look forward to seeing many of you at our CEO Forum entitled “Which Way now?” on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
You may well have caught the media coverage of the launch of our new annual finance report in partnership with Evaluate and the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The title of this year’s report, “Money, momentum and maturity: UK biotech financing and deals in 2015/16”, says it all. The UK biotech sector is in great shape. Firstly, more venture capital money went into UK biotech than ever before, cementing the UK’s lead in Europe. Secondly, impressive levels of follow-on funding demonstrate that not only can companies raise money, they can continue to build momentum through accessing further funds as they grow. Finally, 2015 showed continued maturity through both larger financing rounds and the fact that M&A in the sector is no longer dominated by the large players alone.
The report will also be the focus of Wednesday night’s panel at the UK CEO and Investor Forum at Down Hall, Hatfield Heath – looking forward to some in-depth discussions on the findings then. How we can sustain start-up momentum, alongside scaling-up UK life sciences companies that the country needs to feature as a top three global cluster, should be the shared focus across industry, government and investors in 2016.
As many of you will have seen, this morning Circassia announced top line results from its cat allergy Phase III study. In the study, both treatment regimes and placebo greatly and equally reduced subjects’ combined allergy symptom rescue medication use score from baseline. As a result of the very marked placebo effect, the treatment did not meet the study’s primary endpoint. As Circassia reports, such a dramatic placebo effect was not a feature of earlier Phase II studies and the company will now rapidly analyse the full dataset and provide an update on development plans for the broader business at its interim results.
In terms of the wider UK biotech sector, this is disappointing but not devastating news. As our report published last week shows, the sector is better funded, more diverse, and better managed than a generation ago. Just as there is more to Circassia than the allergy franchise, there is more to the UK biotech ecosystem than Circassia.
The open and matter of fact manner in which this difficult news has been shared with investors and media alike by the Circassia team pays tribute to the mature and business-like way Steve Harris and his team are conducting themselves at a particularly challenging time.
On Thursday the UK will take to the polls for the EU Referendum. The BIA has worked hard to make sure that the voice of UK bioscience has been heard loud and clear in the debate and we will be communicating to members on Friday following the result. In the meantime, if you are approached by the media for your companies view then do take a look at the page on our website that has a useful thought process chart to help you prepare for any interviews.
In other activities last week, we’ve been continuing a series of regional roundtable discussions for business leaders, academics and clinicians with Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman MP. Today we’re in Manchester for the final event of the series at CityLabs, with the Northern Health Science Alliance and attendees from across the Northern Powerhouse region. Last Thursday we were at Kymab’s offices in Cambridge, where a strong cross-sector line-up – including Vicky Ford MEP, Labour MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner and former Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert – met sector representatives to discuss pressing issues for the region’s life sciences scene.
Cambridge regulars won’t be surprised to know that transport and housing infrastructure remain issues of concern, but attendees’ top requests also included many calls for the continuation of the Biomedical Catalyst scheme, plus a focus on NHS uptake and incentives for academics and clinicians to innovate. After the meeting the Minister hosted a press conference and was also joined by the full political panel and Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, Heidi Allen.
A ‘How to guide’ for the upcoming Accelerated Access Review (AAR) has been produced by Deloitte and the Office for life sciences. It is still in the beta stage so there is an opportunity for BIA members to input – you can send any feedback you have to email@example.com.
Thanks to Bristows for hosting another very successful BIA Women in Biotech event last week at their central London offices. Lively networking and an inspiring session on leadership in times of change from Sarah Brummit both contributed to a highly enjoyable evening. The next Women in Biotech Networking Evening will be held 14 September – so make a date in the diary now!
Finally, an important piece of information to note as the database of payments and benefits in kind to healthcare professionals and organisations goes live, next week, on 30th June. Disclosure UK – is the pharmaceutical industry-led, publicly available database detailing payments and other benefits in kind made by the pharmaceutical industry to UK healthcare professionals (HCPs) and healthcare organisations (HCOs).
Part of a Europe-wide initiative to increase transparency around the important relationships and collaborations between HCPs and the pharmaceutical industry, the new database will show transfers of value made during 2015, where the HCP has given the pharmaceutical company permission to disclose the information. This includes activities such as speaking at or chairing meetings, advisory board meetings, training services, fees and expenses for services and sponsorship of attendance at meetings. The database will also show transfers of value to healthcare organisations; a total amount for those individuals that did not give consent to disclose and a total amount of R&D expenditure with HCPs and HCOs per company.
Since 2012, the pharmaceutical industry in the UK has been publishing details of the annual total payments made to HCPs and HCOs under the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry. The self-regulatory Code has been operational for more than 50 years and sets standards to ensure that pharmaceutical companies operate in a responsible, ethical and professional manner. This includes appropriate training as well as robust guidance on the promotion of medicines and requirements for interactions with HCPs, patients and the public.
The Disclosure UK database and the disclosure of individual level data is a requirement for all pharmaceutical companies that are signatories to the Code, and is co-ordinated via the ABPI. Its development signifies a further step forward in greater transparency around the industry/HCP relationships that enable the development of life-saving and life-enhancing medicines for the benefit of patients.
Publication of this data is complementary to current NHSE proposals for managing conflicts of interest.
For more information about the Disclosure UK database, please visit www.disclosureuk.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the plans for launch and all media enquiries. For more information about the ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry, please visit the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority website www.pmcpa.org.uk