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As trailed by Simon Stevens in his keynote address at our UK Bioscience Forum last Thursday, today saw the long-awaited publication of the final report from the Accelerated Access Review (AAR). The recommendations include a funded Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS), for which the BIA has long advocated.

We welcome the Review’s recommendation for a funded EAMS for small and scaling companies, it’s a key step in making the UK a great location to clinically develop highly innovative therapies at pace. We now need to see a rapid response from the Government to fulfil these recommendations followed by a timely implementation from NHS England.

Click here to access the news from the Department of Health and download the report.

We had a fantastic event last Thursday at our annual UK Bioscience Forum – many thanks to all who came along, our speakers and supporters for making the day such a success.

The opening keynote speech from NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens set the scene for the day, emphasising the importance and shared public interest in the life science sector. UK bioscience plays a central role in developing the treatments needed for future generations here and around the globe, from investing in and carrying out research and development, to getting drugs from the lab and into patients. Industry news often focuses on finance and regulation and it’s vital that we stop and take a moment to remember and celebrate the fantastic work being undertaken within the sector.

With this in mind, the latest phase of our ‘Celebrating UK Bioscience’ campaign was launched at the UK Bioscience Forum last week. The aim of this campaign is to showcase the great work taking place in the sector – focusing on the potential human benefits of treatments that are currently in research and development – and to bring a greater understanding of the UK biotechnology sector to new audiences. A series of videos and infographics accompany the report, which explore behind the scenes in the labs of some of our members to see what they are researching and developing and the possible patient benefits these treatments could have in the future. The campaign takes a look at five treatment areas: cancer, antimicrobial resistance, type one diabetes, dementia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The videos, played throughout the Forum, contain first-hand insights from patients and their families who have shared their personal stories and what they hope UK biotech will be able to achieve. I’d encourage you to take a look – if you are an SME you could share them with your team at a staff meeting – it’s a wonderful reminder of the impact our sector can make on the lives of others. Click here to view the videos and to learn more about the campaign, visit our website.

Elsewhere at the Forum, our panels of experts offered their thoughts and opinions on a range of important sector topics ranging from the importance of effective media relations to access to orphan medicines and, of course, Brexit. The session on AMR was well attended and if you want to learn more BioInfect is next week at Alderley Park. It was also fantastic to be able to celebrate the recent Biomedical Catalyst win with you at our Autumn Reception. We’ll be publishing a blog in due course summarising some of the highlights from the day and will signpost you to it once up.

Last Wednesday the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee announced their newly elected Chair – following on from Nicola Blackwood MP’s move to a ministerial role – as Stephen Metcalfe MP. We will be reaching out to him to ensure he is up to date on our sector’s policy priorities.

That same afternoon, several  members of BIA’s cell and gene therapy and manufacturing communities gave evidence to MPs as part of the Select Committee’s inquiry into Regenerative Medicine. They did a great job discussing the opportunities presented by the sector for the UK while also emphasising the need for strong UK advanced therapies manufacturing capacity, as well as clear routes for NHS uptake and reimbursement of these types of medicines. It’s great to see cell and gene therapies recognised in the AAR report in the context of the proposed Accelerated Access Pathway and that NICE will be looking at how to address cases where the evidence base is immature but shows strong potential.

On the subject of regenerative medicine, we are looking forward to supporting the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine’s 4th annual European Advanced Therapies Investor Day on 3 November – to catch up on these issues, join us there.

Finally, as a signatory to the Concordat on openness on animal research, it’s always encouraging to see articles such as this from the BBC with organisations or universities providing access into their facilities – a good demonstration of how far things have travelled on this issue.

Best

Steve