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UK 'Life Sciences Blueprint' announced

Measures to ensure that innovation is at the heart of healthcare delivery in the UK have been launched

Measures to ensure that innovation is at the heart of healthcare delivery in the UK have been launched by Lord Drayson, the Minister for Science and Innovation, and Lord Darzi, Health Minister for Quality and Innovation.

The package aims to help life sciences companies in the UK and bring faster patient access to new medicines and technology. It was developed by the Office for Life Sciences, which was set up in January, working closely with Government, industry, academia and the National Health Service (NHS), and has been broadly welcomed by stakeholders.

The key actions to be implemented are:

• The introduction of an "Innovation Pass", which will run for three years, to make selected innovative medicines available on the NHS for a time-limited period. It will be run as a complementary initiative to the current National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) drug guideline process, generating further patient data that could be used to put suitable candidates through the usual NICE procedure later. It will be piloted in 2010/2011 with a budget of £25m.
• The NHS chief executive will review ways of accelerating the uptake of medical technologies, including incentives like Payment by Results.
• The Government will reinforce the need for greater emphasis on research and clinical trials in the next NHS Operating Framework.
• From 2010, the Society of Biology will begin to accredit undergraduate bioscience degrees to help ensure that graduates attain the core skills required by employers.
• The Government will support the formation of a UK Life Sciences Super Cluster to coordinate work across industry, higher education and the NHS, and to further international recognition of UK life sciences. It will also invest an extra £1m in promoting the UK and the NHS brands at life sciences events in the UK and abroad.
• The Technology Strategy Board, which works to drive innovation, will launch an £18m investment programme to support commercial R&D, named "RegenMed". Additional funding will come from the Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The next step is to develop detailed delivery plans for each strategy, which will be published in the autumn.

15th July 2009

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