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Government pledges £5bn for health R&D in the UK

The UK government has announced that it will spend £5bn on health-related R&D by 2025, a move welcomed by the pharmaceutical industry

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As part of his annual Budget, the UK’s finance minister (or Chancellor of the Exchequer), Rishi Sunak, has committed to spend £5bn on health-related research and development before 2025.

The funding is part of a pledge to raise spending on R&D in the UK to £22bn a year. However, the Chancellor also announced in his Budget that he will be moving the goalposts on this target, pushing it back by two years to 2026/27.

The funding has been broadly welcomed by industry groups, although the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) expressed concerns about how the money will be spent.

“Increasing health-specific research to £5bn is a positive signal that the government remains committed to this agenda, despite the delay in when we will reach £22bn a year of public investment in R&D,” said the ABPI.

“We still need clarity on how the government will fund institutions like the MHRA and NICE, but the measures to boost investment in science and research in the UK announced by the Chancellor will be well received by our members as they look to invest in discovering the medicines and vaccines of the future,” it added.

The ABPI also welcomed the announcement by the Chancellor that R&D tax reliefs would be reformed to ‘support modern research methods’, an opinion shared by the UK’s BioIndustry Association (BIA).

CEO Steve Bates OBE said: “Thanks to the UK’s life sciences sector, which has developed essential COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and medicines that have enabled the re-opening of our economy, the Chancellor was able to make important spending commitments in this Budget, which we welcome.”

“Modernising R&D tax reliefs to include data and cloud computing is essential for life science firms discovering and developing life-changing therapies for patients,” he added.

The £5bn commitment includes specific earmarks. There is £95m for the Office for Life Sciences to deliver the government’s Life Sciences Vision, including launching the Prime Minister’s healthcare missions in cancer, obesity and mental health as well as to address systemic barriers to the access and uptake of cutting-edge innovations in the NHS. Also, medicines, diagnostics and vaccines manufacturing will receive £354m for research to increase health resilience and create jobs in the UK life sciences industry.

The Chancellor also announced that £2.1bn will be spent on IT upgrades and digital health technology to support the “innovative use of digital technology so hospitals and other care organisations are as connected and efficient as possible”.

This funding is part of a wider £5.9bn capital investment in the UK’s National Health Service to help clear the record backlog of patients who are waiting for treatment.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

29th October 2021

From: Research, Healthcare

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