CEO Update Monday 4 June 2018

This week I’m writing from BIO in Boston, one of the largest life science conferences of the year, where BIA has meetings, panels and networking lined up to highlight the strengths of the UK bioscience sector.

Later today, I’m participating in a panel about the UK’s AMR scene, organised by the AMR Industry Alliance. I’ll be emphasising that the UK’s small biotech companies have a vital role to play in the global fight to curb AMR and the importance of R&D partnerships to overcome the challenge to bring products to patients.

Tomorrow, BIA is hosting a Genomics Roundtable together with MedCity and London & Partners. In the evening, we’re holding a UK Innovation Reception in partnership with AstraZeneca and the Department for International Trade for an event of networking and celebration of UK bioscience. We’re very pleased that the UK government will be represented at both events by Baroness Fairhead, Minister for Trade and Export Promotion. See our website for more info on other BIO events.

I’m back in the UK on Thursday for Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) conference in Stevenage, where I look forward to discussing how the Life Sciences Sector Deal can help deliver our vision for a vibrant medicines manufacturing community in the UK.

Before the Bank Holiday, we had our annual CEO & Investor Forum at the beautiful De Vere Latimer Estate in Buckinghamshire. We kicked off the event with some competitive archery and laser clay shooting to get everyone geared up for an afternoon of practical workshops and pitches from innovative young UK based start-ups. Over dinner and drinks we heard from the BIA lifetime achievement award winner Harren Jhoti on his fascinating life story.

The second day provided a packed agenda with a mix of panels and presentations ranging from how to unlock funding for the sector and how to be globally relevant, to using real world evidence to access the NHS, using AI to fast-track drug discovery and how to tap into China. A big thank you to all the speakers and delegates for coming and to all the BIA team for making the event as successful as ever.

On Brexit, the government responded to the Health Committee’s report on Brexit and medicines, medical devices and substances of human origin. The government’s response shows understanding of the complexities Brexit has brought to getting medicines to NHS patients, but it does not provide the detailed answers needed for the sector to plan with clarity.  Our priority remains ensuring that NHS patients continue to receive their medicines both day 1 post-Brexit and in the future.  There are measures the UK government can take unilaterally to increase certainty for our sector as they work to ensure that they can continue to supply medicines to patients, and I strongly encourage them to do so immediately.

Staying with the EU, the European Commission has proposed an SPC manufacturing waiver, which would allow generics companies to produce for export medicines protected by an SPC. The draft proposal came out on 28 May and provides the Regulation text which will amend the SPC Regulation (EC) No 469/2009. We’ve been expecting this development and have been part of industry-wide efforts to discourage the Commission from taking it forward. The BIA will continue this work with Europabio as well as feeding in views to the UK Intellectual Property Office on the draft Regulation text and comments on the Commission’s impact assessment. If you have any comments or questions, please contact Martin Turner. As a Regulation, the legislation will be subject to the usual procedure of agreement by both the European Council and the European Parliament, however there is already broad support for the waiver so we expect it to be put into effect in early 2019. This will likely be before we leave the EU and so it will automatically become UK law.   

Looking forward, the EMA, the US FDA and the Japanese PMDA are co-organising a workshop on the development of antibiotics for children on 21-22 June at EMA offices. The agenda is available here and expression of interests to attend should be sent here by 6 June.

Finally, we’re hosting a networking lunch in Nottingham on 21 June, where we’ll be showcasing members from BioCity and the Nottingham region. It will also be a great opportunity to network and make new contacts, so make sure you register if you’re in the region. We hope to see many of you there.



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