Industry leaders are banding together to help cultivate a more attractive environment in the UK for pharmaceutical companies to invest in.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has established a new Inward Investor Group currently including representatives from 11 firms investing in the UK. They are Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Eli Lilly, Ipsen, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB.

It will be headed by Steve Arnold, UCB’s managing director in the British and Irish Isles. He said: ”The government has made great progress in their support for the life sciences over the last five years and we will continue to work constructively to ensure that the UK remains a natural destination when global chief executives make difficult investment decisions.”

Two key aims of the newly-formed group are to demonstrate what the UK is already good at while ensuring the government is aware of the policies the industry needs in place in order to help the UK remain, or even regain, its attractiveness for inward investment, Stephen Whitehead, the ABPI's chief executive, told PharmaTimes.

The first priority will be to determine what these policies are, he said, noting that they will likely focus on areas such as skills, corporate tax, R&D and the commercial environment. The group will then take its wish list to the government, hopefully within the next three to four months to catch the electoral cycle.

15% drop in UK R&D spend

The concept of an industry group focused on inward investment has been simmering for a while now. The last six years have seen nine major manufacturing site closures, while in 2013 there was a decline in inward R&D spend for the first time, dropping 15% and spooking politicians and industry chiefs alike that the UK is in danger of losing its competitive edge.

And the move also fits with the UK's Life Sciences Strategy, Mr Whitehead said, stressing that it is in no way antagonistic to the government.

“The UK Life Sciences strategy showed that there have been successes, but we also need to be realistic in our appraisal and acknowledge that a lot more needs to be done to ensure that patients truly benefit from the innovation that exists in the life sciences sector," he noted.