A new report published today which highlights the importance of biotechnology for the health and wealth of the UK has been welcomed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
The report, Improving National Health, Increasing National Wealth, produced for the Government by the Bioscience Innovation and Growth Team (BIGT), aims to improve the competitiveness of biotechnology in the UK. Specific proposals include a new clinical trials body and the provision of necessary regulatory, funding, skills and bioprocessing infrastructure.
"The pharmaceutical industry, as the leading biotechnology sector in the UK, fully supports the report's ambitions to improve the UK's attractiveness as a destination for investment in this field," said ABPI Director General Dr Trevor Jones. "This is a highly competitive arena and the UK needs to take definite steps to ensure that we remain at the forefront of international biotech research."
The report makes a number of recommendations to address challenges facing the biotechnology sector in the UK. The first recommendation which outlines the need for efficient infrastructure for clinical trials is fully supported by the ABPI. It is also in line with proposals made by the Academy of Medical Sciences in their report Strengthening Clinical Research, published on October 30.
The second recommendation addresses the issue of the regulatory process for UK medicines development. While the pharmaceutical industry believes that regulation is necessary, in recent years it has become more risk adverse, unnecessarily delaying patients' access to new medicines. As a result, BIGT proposals for regulatory support are welcome.
"While there is no question that the regulatory process serves an important function, we must strive to ensure that it is not a greater burden than necessary. Regulation should be there to protect patients, but it must not result in denying them life-saving treatment because of over-cautious bureaucratic demands," said Dr Jones.
The report makes three recommendations regarding the use of animals in medical research - defending the responsible use of animal testing in medical research; introducing new, specific legislation to combat animal extremism; and to support the work of the Coalition for Medical Progress (CMP). The ABPI has been supporting these principles in its work and will continue to do so, with particular emphasis on trying to bring an end to extremism which affects the attractiveness of the UK as environment for research.
"The issue of animal extremism continues to be central to medicines research in the UK and one that needs to be addressed to maintain our place as a leader in this field. To succeed, it is essential that we all work together, through the CMP and other such organisations," said Dr Jones.
BIGT also recommends the establishment of bioprocessing centres of excellence. As the source of most of innovation and manufacturing in biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry welcomes support from the BioIndustry Assocation (BIA) in increasing capacity for this activity.
Developing, attracting and retaining a high quality scientific and managerial talent base is another of the publication's suggestions. ABPI agrees with BIGT views concerning commercial funding, strengthening the bridge between the generation of ideas and commercial financing and the need to develop, attract and retain high levels of quality scientific and management talent.
"In view of the pharmaceutical industry's major role in biotechnology in the UK, the ABPI looks forward to being represented on the bioscience leadership council and working with our partners for the benefit of the sector," Dr Jones said.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410