CEO Update - 15 January 2024
JPM week suggests a brighter 2024
The mood music from the JPM conference in San Francisco seemed brighter this year, and it was good to see UK companies making global headlines. GSK's purchase of San Francisco and London-based Aiolos Bio for $1.4 billion was just one of several high-profile acquisition deals announced. It followed Isomorphic Labs' two large pharma deals with Eli Lilly and Novartis worth nearly $3 billion, excellent news for a digital biology company headquartered in London, just more than two years after launching within Alphabet. The conference news also moved the NASDAQ Biotech Index up 4.5% in just three days showing renewed investor interest in our sector for the coming year.
UK Minister sees medicine manufacturing capacity first hand
Closer to home it was great to see Minister for Health & Secondary Care Andrew Stephenson MP take the time to visit BIA member Pharmaron’s Liverpool site to understand the new capabilities and capacity the team have on site.
Mr Stephenson learned about the Pharmaron business and how they support the drug development of life-changing gene therapies and immunotherapeutics for customers.
The Pharmaron team also shared some of the current challenges facing CDMO businesses in the UK before touring their state-of-the-art analytical and process development laboratories, GMP Manufacturing facilities and ambitious new expansion build project.
The team were delighted that the Minister took time out to understand the bioprocessing community in the UK.
The Minister was also accompanied on the visit by Rumbidzai Mukwashi, Private Secretary, Department of Health & Social Care; Andrew Howard, Deputy Director for Manufacturing, Access to Finance and Skills, Office for Life Sciences and Jess Moody, Policy Advisor, Office for Life Sciences.
Covid inquiry on vaccines and therapeutics delayed until 2024
The public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed its hearing into vaccines and therapeutics until at least 2024. The move means the substantial public discussion will now be after the General Election and any recommendations for action will also be delayed. Whilst the heroic efforts to develop, produce and distribute vaccines fast is one of the triumphs of our age, I am concerned that post-pandemic decision-making has not ensured the UK is best prepared for any subsequent pandemic, and there is now the real possibility that any incoming government will not have the experience of the public inquiry to draw on as they make decisions about this.
Call for applications for NIHR & OLS Real World Evidence Programme
The NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) programme in collaboration with the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will soon be inviting applications for the i4i & OLS Real World Evidence Programme. The call aims to support consortia to address real-world evidence gaps to accelerate the widespread adoption of technologies recommended for early use in the NHS through NICE Early Value Assessment (EVA). The call will open for applications on 31 January 2024. Find out more about the call and register for the launch event on 23 January 2024 (10:30 - 12:00).
MHRA publishes Regulatory Roadmap for devices
The MHRA has this week published its Regulatory Roadmap for devices, setting out the pathway for new measures which will support safe access to medical technology, including AI and diagnostics. The MHRA’s roadmap sets out a route to deliver enabling regulation via a series of new Statutory Instruments (SIs). Priority measures to protect patient safety will be put in place this year, with core elements of the new framework intended to be in place by 2025. See the visual timeline of the MHRA roadmap.
Public help sought to inform MRC’s public partnerships strategy
The Medical Research Council (MRC) wants the public’s thoughts on how they work in partnership to shape and share research. MRC has co-developed a strategy for public partnerships to improve research and is inviting everyone to give their views on these plans. This new draft strategy outlines the organisation’s ambitions for creating effective collaboration and genuine partnerships between researchers, MRC staff, professionals, individuals and communities over the next three years. The consultation will run for three weeks from 8 to 29 January 2024. You may wish to ensure groups you engage with are aware of this consultation.
UKRI looking for Non-Executive Directors
UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is recruiting three Board members. UKRI is led by its Board which oversees its wide and diverse activity including the allocation of funding to its Councils and cross-cutting programmes, its portfolio of institutes, campuses, and research infrastructure. UKRI Board Members bring unique skills and experience to help ensure the effective governance, accountability and efficiency of UKRI’s operations and the successful pursuit of its objectives. Apply by 1 February 2024 and share with your network!
Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association