“Moment of truth” for UK life sciences

Words by GOLD newsdesk

The UK is facing a “moment of truth” and needs to act quickly to retain and develop its position as a world-leading hub for medicines development and discovery, according to a new report commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).


Published by PwC one year on from the UK government’s ‘Life Science Vision’, the report highlights that the UK has the infrastructure, science base and skills to bolster its position within life sciences, and that there are some good examples of individual investment, particularly in the biotech space. However, manufacturing, clinical research and exports in the UK are all in decline in real terms, while countries such as France and Germany have successfully strengthened their life sciences bases.


To fend off this international competition and realise a number of benefits across health, GDP, employment, NHS revenues and cost savings, there's an urgent need for the UK to implement the government’s Life Sciences Vision fully and at pace across all aspects of the ecosystem, the report stipulates.


It is thought that this could prompt £68 billion in additional GDP over 30 years, owing to increased R&D investment; an additional £16.3 billion annual GDP from increased pharmaceutical exports, supporting 85,000 additional jobs; up to 40 per cent decrease in disease burden across the whole UK; and reduced variation in speed of access to new medicines within three months of licensing for all NHS patients.


Collaboration between UK and devolved nation governments, the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry and other stakeholders will be required to make it a reality.


“Global competition is fiercer than ever, and the UK is struggling to keep pace with competitors like France and Germany,” said Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. “By prioritising this sector, building strong research and manufacturing bases and creating policies to improve access to medicines for patients we can be a world leader in 10 years. We know Government shares this ambition and we urge them to work with us to fulfil the UK’s potential.”