UK to announce increased funding for life sciences

UK to announce increased funding for life sciences
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The UK government is trying to placate the disgruntled life sciences industry by investing in health data mining and increasing domestic manufacturing of vaccines and medicines.

Ministers are expected to unveil more than £150m of funding on Friday for the UK Biobank, a pioneering genomics project, to quadruple its research capacity to advance scientists’ understanding of human biology and drug manufacturers.

The biobank will build a new facility in Manchester to store its 16 million samples and upgrade its IT infrastructure, according to officials.

Pharmaceutical executives have strongly criticized the government for drastically increasing a tax on drug sales to the NHS, claiming it is undermining their own vision of making the UK a world leader in life sciences.

Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said in February that drugmakers should not pay for the “explosion” of NHS costs, while US drug groups Eli Lilly and AbbVie have renounced their price agreement with the NHS.

The announcement is part of a package of measures the government is expected to unveil on Friday to boost life sciences in Britain.

On Thursday, industry leaders will meet with the foreign minister, the science and technology secretary and the health secretary to discuss plans for the sector.

Pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson, already work with the UK Biobank to access genomic data. The government believes the new funding could unlock a further £70m of investment from the private sector.

Whitehall officials said the UK is a “life science giant by any measure”, and the science and technology secretary believes the government should “double down” on this force.

“Supporting the sector through financial investment, expanding the pipeline of world-class talent and ensuring regulation is fit for purpose is a no-brainer that will deliver significant benefits for the UK, both for economic growth and for health. public,” they said.

The industry has also raised concerns about a drop in clinical trials conducted in the NHS in the last five years, arguing that the UK is not taking full advantage of the single healthcare system that should facilitate research.

Last month Emma Walmsley, chief executive of GSK, asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to increase industry access to anonymous NHS patient data.

The government will unveil new measures designed to make it easier for drugmakers to run trials in the NHS this week, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The UK is also expected to announce a £38m equity fund on Friday to incentivize investment in biomanufacturing to improve the country’s ability to respond to future health emergencies.

It is also increasing funding for a program to invest in the latest technologies for vaccines and drugs, and to boost skills needed for advanced manufacturing.

The announcement comes after the UK sold its main vaccine manufacturing hub near Oxford to contract manufacturer Catalent last year.


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