Pfizer closure a blow to science and growth confidence

Whilst Pfizer are saying that their closure of their Kent-based research site is due to internal changes in priorities it highlights both fundamental changes in the approach to drug research and development (R&D) and the urgent need for the UK government to know how to keep companies in the UK.

In order to build confidence in the UK, questions we need to be acting on the answers to as soon as possible include:

  • How quickly can we implement Sir Michael Rawlins’ report to encourage growth clinical trials in the UK?
  • We are still one of the lowest spenders on medicines of the OECD nations and our spend has been falling since 1994 according to their data – why aren’t we doing more to encourage the use of new drugs?
  • What is being done to encourage pupils to study science at A level and beyond to ensure an adequate workforce?
  • What are the barriers to universities developing new chemical entities and forming SMEs to commercialize them and enable re-investment?
  • Has anyone done the work on the longer term costs of research moving East? Costs will rise in India and China over time. Is there a period over which we can predict we should offer more incentives in the UK, knowing that eventually what we can offer here will be overall better value than can be found in the East?
  • Drug R&D is hugely expensive and risky and companies say that the UK is one of the most expensive countries in which to undertake it. Why – and what can we change?

No doubt the Budget will be seeking to stimulate growth, but that is 7 weeks away. Unequivocal, public decisions need to be taken now based on what we already know to ensure we retain, attract and develop our pharmaceutical base in the UK.

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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