UK life science certainly feels more Champions League Final (Spurs v Liverpool) than Eurovision (UK last place) this week. First, LifeArc has announced that it has sold most of its royalty interest in the blockbuster drug Keytruda for $1.3bn (£1.02bn) and plans to invest the windfall in developing new treatments. The sale was made to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the world’s largest retirement funds. We were thrilled that recently-appointed LifeArc CEO, Melanie Lee, was the recipient of our lifetime achievement award at the BIA Gala Dinner in January – it’s fantastic to see her leading the way on LifeArc’s monetization process. This is great news for the UK life sciences ecosystem, research and patients. You can read more about this in the Financial Times.
Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU is the Government’s priority. However, preparing for any outcome is recommended and many UK-based pharmaceutical firms would be affected by a ‘No Deal’ Exit from the EU. Here are the top five tips on preparation for no-deal.
It’s now the second quarter of 2019 and frustratingly Brexit uncertainty continues. I don’t see it being resolved this week. I know many of you are, at high cost, making contingency plans for all eventualities. I am equally well aware of how the Westminster drama provides an unhelpful backdrop to those seeking global investment into UK businesses. This week, following the PM losing the vote on an amendment and another Withdrawal Agreement vote, Parliament will vote again on different Brexit options to see if there is a position that commands a majority of the House. The default in UK and EU law is that the UK will leave the EU on Friday week, 12 April 2019 without a deal, however avoiding a no-deal Brexit is the one thing for which there has been a majority in Parliament.
The World Health Organisation is today convening its first expert advisory committee on developing global standards for the governance and oversight of human genome editing. The aim of the two-day meeting, in Geneva, is to examine the scientific, ethical, social and legal challenges of gene-editing and create guidelines and standards for it.
The meeting follows a call last week by some 16 leading scientists from 7 countries: USA; China; Canada; France; Germany; Italy and New Zealand for a global moratorium on heritable genome editing.
I attended and participated in the inaugural WuXi Healthcare Forum in Shanghai in March 2019, enabling me to gain a better insight into some of the key trends occurring in innovative life science in China today. Here are a few thoughts that I came away with.
In the last two years China has made a concerted attempt to, and has delivered, fundamental changes to key aspects of its human healthcare market as part of a broader Government push to improve healthcare for the nation and become a leader in biotechnology. They fall into four areas regulation, reimbursement, talent and capital.
I spent last week at the inaugural WuXi Healthcare Forum in Shanghai, and it proved to be a hugely insightful week, with over 2000 global leaders gathered. I spoke on a panel entitled ‘New Era, Golden Opportunities’ where leaders from China and the UK explored how key stakeholders are redefining the innovation narrative – opening up a new era of opportunities and connecting the global life sciences ecosystem. I also attended the British Consulate-General/BioIndustry Association official reception hosted by John Edwards, HM Consul General in Shanghai and Kevin Holland, Minister Counsellor of Life Sciences and Healthcare at the British Embassy in Beijing. You can read a blog on my thoughts from the forum and the other life sciences developments in China here. The UK’s China life sciences tea
Fantastic member news came out this morning – Nighstar Therapeutics (who feature in our Cell and Gene Therapies Explainer) have reached an agreement to be acquired by Biogen Switzerland Holdings for $877 million. Nightstar was founded and built by BIA member Syncona Ltd, an industry leader focussed on building and funding global life science leaders. This valuation represents a 4.5X multiple on Syncona’s initial investment in Nightstar and is a resounding endorsement of Syncona’s business model, demonstrating the fantastic returns obtainable through long-term commitment to companies. You can read more about this great news here.
In my first blog in this series, I discussed how the Spending Review (SR) would have received a whole lot more attention in normal political times than what it has so far. BIA is working hard to change that. Two weeks ago, we brought together a stellar panel in front of our whole membership to discuss what the life sciences sector can expect from the SR and get our members’ feedback on BIA’s emerging key messages.
A key part of the BIA’s work on the Spending Review (SR) is engaging parliamentarians, who have a role in scrutinising and approving the Government’s decisions. To start this process, two weeks ago we teamed up with partner organisations across the life sciences sector to organise an event in the House of Commons – “Keeping the UK a world leader in medical research: the need for cross-government coordination”.
When Brexit seemingly takes up an ever-increasing amount of time and resources, it’s important (and perhaps even – dare I say it – refreshing) to remember there are other matters of great concern for the life sciences sector.
One of those matters is this year’s Spending Review (SR)– the process by which the Government decides how much each government department will spend within a given period. This has a major impact on our sector as public funding bodies, such as UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), its Councils and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), are funded through government departments.