Life sciences protected in the UK

Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

The UK's coalition government has unveiled its spending review and it's good news for the life sciences sector, which has been allocated annual public funding of £4.46 billion ($7 billion) until 2014/2015.

The UK’s coalition government has unveiled its spending review and it’s good news for the life sciences sector, which has been allocated annual public funding of £4.46 billion ($7 billion) until 2014/2015.

According to a blog from the New Scientist, the figure actually translates as a cut as inflation means that £1 today will be worth about 90 pence in 4 years’ time. However, the sector has still fared better than other areas of expenditure, which have suffered significant cuts in light of the financial crisis and the fact that the UK is in a huge amount of debt right now (the equivalent of a budget deficit in excess of $240 billion).

“A real-terms cut still poses significant challenges, but we acknowledge the commitment of Ministers to ensuring a stable scientific research base in the UK,” Nigel Gaymond, Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association (BIA), said in a press statement.

The funding has also been welcomed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). “Scientific research is critical to securing the future economic growth and the UK can harness the rich opportunities offered by medical science for the benefit of patients and society,” said Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI, said in a statement.

UK life sciences also received further good news this week with the launch of two new initiatives designed to boost R&D and collaboration between academics, clinicians and industry. The Therapeutic Capability Clusters initiative will seek to accelerate the development of new medicine, while the Inflammation and Immunology Initiative aims to help target the right treatments to the right people, enabling effective clinical trials as well as identifying novel biomarkers, mechanisms and targets. Both initiatives were launched by universities and UK Science Minister David Willetts at a joint conference held by the ABPI and the BIA.

Another initiative launched in the past week is the UK Department of Health’s pledge to establish a cancer drug fund of £200 million per year ($317 million USD), which should help boost the country’s uptake of cancer drugs and, subsequently, pharma companies with oncology drugs.

“This £200 million a year funding over 3 years for cancer drugs is a crucial step forward in addressing the disparity in patients' access to cancer drugs in England compared with other countries,” UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said in a statement.

The ABPI also added: “The UK currently ranks amongst the lowest in Europe in the uptake of innovative medicines, despite having amongst the lowest prices. As the NHS faces the challenge of achieving £20 billion annual efficiency savings, innovative new medicines will be an important part of the solution to reduce the long term burden of disease, and so deliver cost-effective care.”