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UK’s genomics leadership attracts IQVIA investment, regardless of Brexit

Invests in Genomics England alliance, plus clinical trials expansion

IQVIA

Human data sciences and clinical trials company IQVIA has unveiled a major new investment in the UK, tapping into the country’s world-leading genomics capability and research expertise.

The US-headquartered firm was one of several life sciences firms which announced major new investments yesterday as part of the UK’s Life Science Sector Deal 2, along with UCB, Roche, Celgene and Autolus.

The investments are a remarkable vote of confidence in the UK sector, given that the country is in the midst of a political crisis over Brexit, with just days to go before a crucial vote in Westminster.

On Tuesday MPs are expected to roundly dismiss Theresa May’s Brexit deal agreed with the EU, throwing the country’s future direction into confusion, with a very damaging ‘no deal’ Brexit remaining a real possibility.

But it seems that a long-term plan to make England a leader in genomics, first launched by then-Prime Minister David Cameron in 2012, is paying off.  The UK-government owned Genomics England is to launch a collaboration to integrate its world-leading genomic database with IQVIA’s UK clinical trials capabilities, a key milestone in its development.

Genomics England has just hit its target of sequencing 100,000 genomes, and this world-leading status, and the new IQVIA alliance, bring the vision of UK clinical research and NHS treatment informed by genomic profiling a step closer to reality.

As well as investing £20m into this project over five years, IQVIA is also spending up to £24m investment over five years on expanding its UK clinical trials network. This involves opening a fourth in its UK ‘Prime Site’ clinical research locations.

The Northern Prime Site will include NHS research-ready hospitals across the Greater Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield region, and the new site will employ a data-enabled approach to the design and delivery of hundreds of additional clinical trials and real-world evidence studies.

IQVIA

Trade Minister Baroness Fairhead (centre, in red) met IQVIA researchers, senior management and scientific staff as well as clinicians from trials sites and research patients at the IQVIA London office.

IQVIA already conducts 25% of all commercial clinical trials in the NHS. Tim Sheppard, senior vice president (SVP) and general manager, Northern Europe IQVIA, says the new investment is a “demonstration of IQVIA’s confidence in, and its commitment to, the future of the UK life sciences industry.”

To mark the new investment, the company hosted Baroness Fairhead, UK Government Minister for Trade and Export Promotion, at its UK headquarters in London.

Speaking to PME during her visit to IQVIA, she said it was a great example of a company making the most of the UK’s life science sector.

Asked about Brexit, she said the UK has been developing a true ‘ecosystem’ for life sciences, regardless of Brexit’s outcome.

“We're just more joined up… that has to happen, whatever happens in Brexit. I think this sector is one of our national treasures.”

Tim Sheppard said the uncertainties of Brexit had not deterred IQVIA from making the investment, indicating that the Sector Deal helps to meet the specific needs of life science companies.

“It [the Sector Deal] is rather separate from Brexit, though there is no doubt that it was kickstarted by Brexit. But I think it lives a life of its own now, irrespective of Brexit, whatever happens.”

He nevertheless stressed the need for stakeholders to work together in achieving the many long term goals of the Sector Deal, which include raising the UK’s investment in R&D.

UK pharma industry leaders have expressed doubts about the long term commitment of the UK government to realising the many objectives of the Sector Deal: many similar initiatives having petered out in recent decades, due to lack of industry-government joint working and shifting political and fiscal priorities.

Despite the confidence of companies such as IQVIA in the UK environment, Brexit remains a huge question for the sector’s long-term future. Key to this will be alignment – or otherwise – with the European medicines regulator, the EMA.

The fate of this, like so many other commercial and regulatory questions, hangs in the balance of political events between now and 29 March 2019.

This would be decided in negotiations to cement a long-term UK-EU relationship, details of which remain sketchy – and are in any case dependent on a ‘divorce settlement’ being signed off by the UK parliament.

Baroness Fairhead said the UK government has made it clear that it wants “as close participation as possible” in the EMA, even though the deal on the table would see it excluded from active participation in EMA clinical review work and decision-making.

“The industry has made it very,very clear that they want close co-operation within the bounds of what is possible and that's what we’re aiming for,” she added.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

7th December 2018

From: Research

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