MedCity has welcomed the announcement of new industry investment in the greater south east region alongside a new Government review aimed at speeding up patient access to new medical innovations

In plans unveiled by Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman, US pharmaceutical company Merck will invest a minimum of £42 million over the next three years in creating a new licensing hub in London, expanding research at its Hertfordshire HQ and funding clinical research in oncology and dementia.

Explaining why the company has elected to expand in the UK, Andrew Schechter, President of Global Human Health at Merck, said:

“We are impressed with the United Kingdom’s approach to its life sciences strategy which takes an ‘end to end’ view of medicines, from discovery through to their use in the real world. Our commitment extends beyond the realms of academic and clinical research, and strives to find innovative ways to use data and technology to transform healthcare and, in turn, patients’ lives. We firmly believe the opportunities for partnership and collaboration in this area will continue to grow.”

At the same time, US medical technology company BD is investing £21 million in building a next generation blood separation line in Plymouth.

The Government aims to further enhance the UK’s position as a leading centre for life sciences commercialisation with a new Innovative Medicines and MedTech Review, which will look at:

  • How new approaches to the development of medicines, diagnostics and devices, based on precision medicine and emerging technologies, could speed up access to innovative products for NHS patients
  • How more collaborative work between companies and regulatory and evaluation bodies could ensure that innovative products can be assessed more quickly, using better data
  • How charities and patient groups can play a greater role so that NHS patients can get access to cutting-edge treatments
  • What more can be done to promote the rapid adoption of important medical innovations into clinical practice

Welcoming the announcement, Executive Chair of MedCity Dr Eliot Forster said:

“The life sciences industry is deservedly high up on the political agenda, and there is a clear desire for the UK to be at the forefront of a rapidly evolving sector as technological advances open up exciting new opportunities for medicine and healthcare. How quickly our healthcare system adopts innovations is an important part of our well-being as a nation and our attractiveness to global industry, and we have great potential here to create models for the quicker take up of innovation that the rest of the world can replicate. I’m pleased to see the Government actively engage with that.

“We are an incredibly attractive place to do business due to the strength and variety of our life sciences offer, with the diverse cluster of the south east of England in particular constantly increasing its international profile and appeal. The large-scale investment announced by Merck underlines that, and they are an extremely welcome addition to our dynamic region.”