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Pharma leaders urge UK Government not to cut spending

Published on 09/09/15 at 11:24am
Westminster
Pharma leaders have urged the Government not to cut back on research in the life sciences sector

Representatives of more than 200 life sciences organisations have urged the UK government to protect the sector from spending cuts.

With the Autumn spending review approaching, the signees called on Chancellor George Osborne to reaffirm his commitment to the sector, having called it a “personal priority” several times in recent years.

Covering a broad range of figures from pharma companies and organisations to bioscience investors and health charities, signatories to the letter, published in the Financial Times, included Alison Clough, acting chief executive of the ABPI, Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, and Patrick Vallance, president of pharmaceuticals R&D at GlaxoSmithKline.

The letter said protected funding was crucial for the UK to maintain its status as a ‘scientific superpower’ and that “diverse public funding is critical to maintain the UK’s world-leading position, and improve the health and wellbeing of the population.”

Noting that investment in life sciences “drives growth and attracts a wealth of global corporations, investors and charities,” the signatories also made clear that their own ‘investment and support’ depend on the government maintaining spending levels.

The letter went on to say that the UK’s pharma, biotech, medical technology and diagnostics sectors generate around £56bn a year for the UK economy and provide employment for more than 183,000 people in the UK. It added that the investment from venture capitalists and others into innovative new companies, and the £1.3 billion of funding for medical research charities, would not be possible without strong government support.

Reader response to the letter was mixed, with one calling GSK’s Vallance ‘hypocritical’ for signing it when his own company was making redundancies at its Stevenage R&D facility. Another said the government’s stated commitment to scientific endeavour in the UK was ‘encouraging’, but called for viable products discovered as a result of its funding to be manufactured in the UK to create jobs.

Joel Levy

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