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UK trumpets life sciences post-Brexit ‘sector deal’

Highlights commitments from GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and MSD

Brexit UK EU life sciences pharma biotech

The UK government has secured commitments from 25 international organisations that it says will ensure the country remains a pharma hub after it leaves the EU.

The life sciences sector deal announced this morning by business secretary Greg Clark and health secretary Jeremy Hunt includes the commitment from MSD announced last week as well as a new £40m ($53m) investment from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in drug target identification and a commitment from AstraZeneca (AZ) to continue to invest in UK R&D including genomics research.

GSK said the new cash will expand its commitment to the UK Biobank gene sequencing effort – allowing all 500,000 genomes to be sequenced – and will strengthen its ‘open targets’ collaboration with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Biogen and Takeda that makes genetic and biological data freely available to researchers.

Other projects highlighted in the document include a $100m contract from The Medicines Company to test a cholesterol-lowering drug at the University of Oxford’s clinical trials unit, a £40m investment from Seqirus to build a fill-and-finish vaccine plant in Liverpool and an initiative between Janssen and the University of Oxford to find novel clinical trial approaches for mental health disorders.

GSK and AZ will also contribute to an artificial intelligence programme to develop digital pathology and radiology programmes “in partnership with industry [and] embedded in the NHS”, said a government statement.

The sector deal follows the UK’s industrial strategy white paper – drawn up by geneticist Sir John Bell – which pledged a series of new R&D investments.

All told, the government intends to increase R&D spending of £2.3bn in 2021/2022 – raising public funding of research to £12.5bn – with the aim of enlisting the aid of industry to spend 2.4% of GDP on R&D by 2027.

As laid out in Sir John’s paper, the sector deal focuses on key themes including encouraging research, developing technologies such as early diagnostics and genomics, beefing up national clinical trial capabilities and improving the business environment for life sciences companies.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), welcomed the announcement, describing it as “a great start towards industry and government working together to deliver the long-term strategic roadmap set out in the life sciences industrial strategy”.

“If we get this right … the UK can open itself up to be at the forefront of cutting-edge clinical research. NHS hospitals will reap the benefits of global clinical trials and the financial rewards they bring; doctors can prescribe the latest treatments and patients will get the best standard of care. This ecosystem will deliver for everyone,” he added.

* Read: The UK’s life sciences sector deal

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th December 2017

From: Research, Regulatory



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