A new report published by the UK BioIndustry Association argues that without lasting political commitment, the momentum of the UK’s life sciences industry will be lost.
The report finds that despite the efforts of successive governments to support the UK life science sector and encourage uptake of innovation, policies have not been fully implemented or led to lasting change.
Now More Than Ever: Seizing the opportunity to make the UK a world leader in the life sciences, calls on political parties to turn warm words into practical solutions to strengthen UK life sciences.
In particular, parties should think creatively about how to harness the unique strengths of the NHS, as a single integrated system, to bolster UK life sciences in the face of global competition for investment.
As part of parliamentary wash-up both Houses of Parliament have adopted a government amendment to the Health Service Medical Supplies (Cost) Bill.
The amendment will require future governments to consult on the “economic consequences for the life sciences industry” and impact on patients when introducing cost-containment measures for new medicines. This is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done.
In the lead up to the election, the parties can show their support for the sector by including a commitment to implement the recommendations of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) in their forthcoming manifestos. The AAR, which was announced in November 2014, published its final report in October 2016 and the government has yet to publish a response.
Ensuring both Ministers and the NHS are bought into the vision of any forthcoming life science strategy is essential if the next Government can deliver the long-term reform that its predecessors have promised.
Key recommendations from the report are
- The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy needs to exercise greater influence over all aspects of life science policy, alongside the Department of Health.
- NHS England needs to prioritise its responsibilities to support the sector and improve uptake of innovation
- Reforms to assessment and reimbursement of medicines, alongside a central fund dedicated to accelerate access to the most impactful treatments, would make sure the UK remained an attractive destination for global life sciences.
Steve Bates, CEO of the BioIndustry Association, said: “More than 3 years of policy work, through three administrations have gone into the development of Accelerated Access policy proposals; 2017 is the time for action.”
“To give confidence to life science investment into the UK, I ask all political parties contesting the forthcoming General Election to commit to ensuring the AAR recommendations are adopted in their health manifestos.”