CEO Update | Monday 3 December

Today the government announced funding for a new Vaccines Manufacturing Innovation Centre to be built in Oxford. Led by the Jenner Institute, a partnership between the University of Oxford and the Pirbright Institute, the new centre has been awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation of £66 million through the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Medicines Manufacturing challenge. Additional funding of £10 million will come from commercial and other partners, including Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. and Merck Sharp and Dohme. The centre will be further supported by expertise and training from GE Healthcare. The core research teams will be drawn from academia and industry and will include significant new contributions from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Imperial College London as well as the University of Oxford. It’s great to see new public private partnerships strengthening our research innovation ecosystem. Watch for more positive news on this score later this week. 

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is the new national institute for data science in health. Their mission is to harness the power of data to help people live healthier and longer lives. To do this well and responsibly, HDR UK needs to be grounded in the needs, values and interests of patients, carers, and the public. HDR UK is creating a Public Advisory Board to help them with this, as one part of a wider plan for inclusive patient and public involvement and engagement in their work. Find out more and apply here

On Brexit, the BIA is working hard behind the scenes, briefing parliamentarians on the importance of avoiding a no deal Brexit, as this could have a detrimental impact on patients on both sides of the channel. I will be meeting with Ministers in the EU Relationship Group on Wednesday. U.K. Science Minister Sam Gyimah was the latest member of the U.K. government to quit his job over Theresa May’s Brexit deal. He announced his decision late on Friday after the government pulled out of “frustrating” talks on the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system which Gyimah said offered “only a foretaste of things to come.” His decision shows the importance of having words in the political declaration backed up by action in the House of Commons and why, for industry confidence in a future agreed outcome, we are acutely focused on the statements of the EU27, the Commission and its agencies. We produced a member briefing on Brexit last week – if you are a member and you haven’t got it yet please contact BIA Brexit lead Laura Collister.  

In my update a couple of weeks back, I mentioned that the BIA would be closely following developments around the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee’s request for information relating to commercial negotiations between Vertex, NHS England and NICE as part of their inquiry in to the availability of Orkambi. Last week, I wrote to the Chair of the Committee, Sarah Wollaston MP, to draw her attention to the potential unintended consequences of publishing these documents and to urge the Committee to reflect on these before taking further action. I explained that undermining “commercial in confidence” arrangements agreed between NHS England, NICE and biopharmaceutical companies could have serious repercussions for NHS patients by destroying the desirability of the UK as a market to launch innovative medicines. 

I was pleased to receive a prompt reply giving me confidence that the committee are now fully aware of the potential impact of publishing any commercially sensitive documents and will consider the publication of any such document very seriously before making any decision.  

Last week, we announced that Action Medical Research for children will be our Charity of the Year for 2019. The partnership will be formally launched at the BIA Gala Dinner on 24 January 2019. Proceeds from a silent auction, table donations and pledges on the night will be donated to Action Medical Research for children, and attendees will hear from Simon Harriss, dad to 10-year-old Lily who has a devastating rare neurological condition called BPAN. You can see more about Lily's story here

Looking towards next year, the BIA will be holding a joint reception at JP Morgan 2019 with the UK's Department for International Trade, and Penningtons Manches for a reception at the Marines Memorial Club on Wednesday, 9 January 2019, 7:00pm – 9:00pm. Join us for an evening of drinks and hors d'oeuvres as you connect with US and UK life science companies, organizations, renowned expats, and key opinion leaders from the industry. Our friends at Scottish Development International will also be offering a chance to learn about and indulge in some of the finest Scotch whisky brands. It’s the perfect way to wrap up your conference week! Email Ryan McMullen for more information. 


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