A busy day for UK life sciences has seen the government unveil an innovative medicines review and a variety of fresh funding for the sector.
First up, the Innovative Medicines and MedTech Review has been launched to see how new approaches to the development of drugs, diagnostics and devices, “based on precision medicine and emerging technologies, could speed up access to innovative products for NHS patients”. It will look at how more collaboration between companies, regulators and payors could ensure they “can be assessed more quickly, using better data”.

The review will also look at how charities and patient groups can play a greater role to improving access and what more can be done to “promote the rapid adoption of important medical innovations into clinical practice”.

Minister for life sciences George Freeman said that “NHS leadership in health research is attracting new investment” into the sector, “generating the health and wealth we need to be a modern economy.”
He added that “by revolutionising the way in which we look at getting medicines and devices into the NHS we will make sure that this country is the best place in the world for 21st century medical innovation”.
£42 million investment by Merck & Co
The announcement came as medtech giant BD said it is investing £21 million in Plymouth, while Merck & Co unveiled plans to spend a minimum of £42 million in UK life sciences over the next three years. The US major is creating a new licensing hub in London, expanding research at its Hertfordshire headquarters and funding research in oncology and dementia.

Adam Schechter, head of global human health at Merck, said “we are impressed with the UK’s approach to its life sciences strategy which takes an ‘end to end’ view of medicines, from discovery through their use in the real world”. He added that “we firmly believe the opportunities for partnership and collaboration in this area will continue to grow”.

Biomedical Catalyst funding
Finally, the latest rounds of Biomedical Catalyst awards have been announced, with new funding of just over £15 million being made by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) across 16 projects. The Medical Research Council has also awarded over £15 million to 13 academic-led projects at UK universities.

That means the two bodies have awarded £200 million to over 250 companies and universities, and gained a further £100 million in industry co-commitment, the Department of Health noted.