Realising the UK’s potential to be a unique life sciences centre of excellence

By - Integrated Care Journal

Realising the UK

The life sciences industrial strategy has a number of positive proposals that, if taken forward, will allow the UK life sciences sector to compete successfully and become an industry leader. However, it does not mitigate all negative potential impacts or risks of current Brexit negotiations.

The White Paper, entitled 'Just what the doctor ordered? Is the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy the right prescription for Britain's life sciences sector? ' seeks to identify where the life sciences industrial strategy needs to go further in the context of Brexit. Asking whether the deal is sufficient to meet the challenges of Brexit, the paper concludes that more real-world evidence needs to be collected to deliver tangible change.

The launch event, featuring a keynote address from Sir John Bell, Chair of the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Committee, called on the government to publish its external analysis of potential medicines supply chain issues.

Video can be seen here: 

Ben Howlett, Managing Director of Public Policy Projects said: "As Simon Stevens explained a few weeks ago, the NHS is focused on contingency planning should the feared no-deal Brexit scenario become a reality in 2019. It is important for the Government to urgently publish their external analysis of potential medicines supply chain issues so that the public is aware of the potential public health risks of medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin stockpiling after the UK leaves the EU.

"Our white paper shows how Brexit is going to impact the life-sciences sector in the UK. Even without Brexit, the sector faces significant challenges. While the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy goes some way to help plug some of the holes caused by Brexit, a comprehensive free trade partnership between the EU and UK is needed to ensure that patients do not suffer the consequences of Brexit."

The White Paper makes 9 recommendations:

  1. The UK should continue to have a 'deep and special relationship' with the EU, including membership of the EMA
  2. The UK needs to secure free trade and free movement of medicines with the EU
  3. The UK government should commit to making non-identified patient-level data more readily available for appropriate commercial research 
  4. The UK should position itself as a destination for inward pharmaceutical investment
  5. The UK government should consult and introduce clinical research performance metrics aligned with global standards to improve clinical trial success rates and predictability
  6. The UK should maintain access arrangements for the best talent from across the global scientific community 
  7. The UK government should increase spending on research to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027 and maintain ongoing engagement with the successor to the EU's research funding programme, Horizon 2020.
  8. The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Implementation Committee should deliver an accelerated national plan for Digital Innovation Hubs, focusing on interoperability 
  9. Improved collaboration and engagement with industry across the NHS and research landscape 

The White Paper looks at the opportunities created by Britain's exit from the European Union to expand into global markets. To make most of these, the UK must market itself as a destination for investment, take advantage of existing science infrastructure and capitalise on its existing patient data ecosystem.

The full White Paper can be viewed here.