A new board with a budget of up to £1.5 billion should be established to co-ordinate Government-funded health research work, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has said in its response to the Cooksey review.
Within this body, a strategy board should also be set up to help bridge the gap between basic and clinical science with a budget of some £100 million.
"We need a system that acknowledges the strength of the work done by the Medical Research Council as well as the progress being made with the NHS research and development strategy," said Nigel Brooksby, President of the ABPI.
"Our proposals provide a potential turning-point for the UK's prospects in the life sciences and thus make a real impact on patients' lives. The UK has long been a global leader in this sector, but we can no longer rely on past glories. Strong action is needed to build on Britain's existing strengths so we can continue to be a world leader in developing new, innovative medicines."
The ABPI response to the Cooksey review proposes the creation of a Health Research Board with an overview of the total budget for the Government's expenditure on health-related life sciences R&D, with funding in the range of £1.25-£1.5 billion.
This arm's-length agency should comprise key senior representatives from public, private and charitable sectors and be measured on - and accountable for - its performance in strengthening the UK's competitiveness across the whole spectrum of health research, and for the impact of innovation on the quality of care to NHS patients.
The ABPI also proposes the creation of a Translational Medicine Strategy Board to forge a more connected link between basic and clinical science. Part of its role would be to support the creation of tools that can be used by all those involved in medicines research - biomarkers, imaging facilities, and the expertise and facilities for first-into-man (Phase 1) studies.
Other recommendations include:
With R&D investment outside the US increasingly going to high-growth Asian and Eastern European countries, the Government must act to build on the UK's existing strengths in peer-reviewed, public-funded basic research," said Mr Brooksby.
"The ABPI's proposals will not only safeguard our present expertise but also make the UK a place where the journey from molecule to medicine can be travelled without hitch or delay - to the benefit of UK science, the economy and the patient."
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410