CEO Update - 4 September 2023

MHRA tackle backlog of clinical trial authorisation applications and amendments

The MHRA team have had a very busy summer and have made an impressive impact on tackling the backlog of applications that has been concerning our sector. I know industry members on the MHRA Clinical Trials Task & Finish Group are looking forward to a further meeting this week to hear more about the impact of interventions the agency has put in place to eliminate backlogs (take a look at the latest data). I will provide more details on this next week. It means that our upcoming conference The Future of UK Regulation 2023 will be well timed to not only reflect on the work done, but it will also be a great opportunity to look forward and understand how the agency will operate in future.  

Pandemic preparedness

A significant boost to the UK’s ability to contribute to the 100 Days Mission for pandemic response has been enabled by the strategic partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the University of Oxford which will help accelerate the development of safe, effective and globally accessible vaccines against ‘Disease X’: the threat of unknown pathogens with the potential to cause pandemics. Up to $80 million of CEPI funding will support the University of Oxford's world-leading team of vaccine scientists to develop prototype vaccines against high-risk viral families which could be swiftly adapted if a new viral threat is identified.

This practical programme gets underway as global policy on pandemic preparedness continues to be discussed at both the UN, where a Political Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response is expected this month (available in draft) and at the WHO in Geneva this week. I am looking forward to being the UK representative part of the ICBA’s delegation to Geneva next month to ensure that policymakers understand the critical role of small companies in the development of new vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics and that the policymakers understand the practical and financial challenges innovative SMEs face.

UK VC to lead Sanofi R&D global 

Congratulations to Houman Ashrafian who has been appointed as Global Head of Research & Development for Sanofi starting next week. From his role at SV Health Investors, Houman has always championed the innovative UK life science sector. In his new position, he will be well-placed to continue to partner with UK innovators. 

Labour reshuffle

As MPs return to Westminster, the Labour leader Keir Starmer has reshuffled his team. Key for our sector he has decided to mirror the Department for Science Innovation and Technology and has appointed Peter Kyle MP to shadow minister. In a wide-ranging reshuffle, notable points are that Pat McFadden MP has been appointed shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and national campaign coordinator. There is continuity in the shadow Treasury and Health seats as Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting stay in post.

Liz Kendall has been promoted to shadow secretary of state for work and pensions. Darren Jones, who was previously chair of the parliamentary business committee but has been widely tipped for promotion, has been appointed shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. I look forward to meeting them in their new roles at the Labour Conference in Liverpool later this month.

Steve Bates Headshot.png



Steve Bates OBE
CEO, BioIndustry Association

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