Medical research at the Conservative party conference

Posted on October 18, 2012 by


The Conservative conference in Birmingham marked the end of the party conference season and with it the last, but certainly not least, of our life sciences round table meetings, Making treatments available to all patients. With our co-hosts ABPI , ABHI,  BIA and BIVDA, we brought together a lively and knowledegable bunch of scientists, research funders (public, industry and charity) and policy-makers to discuss with parliamentarians how we can develop and deliver drugs to patients faster.

Presenting the first case study, Charles Rowett, chief executive of Yorkshire Cancer Research, illustrated the challenges for charities in commercializing their research, with access to finance being perhaps the biggest. This gave MP George Freeman, who is life sciences advisor to David Willetts, the opportunity to explain what the government has done and still intends to do to tackle the issues around translating early-stage discoveries.

Tim Pitfield, Business Director EMEA at Jansen Cilag, then talked about their innovative Breast Lymph Node Assay. Although it could save the NHS 8,000 – 10,000 surgeries each year, there were many barriers to uptake preventing its widespread use. This chimed with John Glen, MP for Salisbury, who spoke of his interest in the NHS using the latest technologies to improve patient care and how he would like the NHS to commercialize its own in-house diagnostics.

Through the three meetings we’ve hosted the discussion has covered everything from the use of patient data to identify at-risk populations in early-stage research to the pricing of licensed drugs at the other end of the drug-development pipeline.

Sharmila, Becky and myself also went to a number of other meetings and events to represent the charity research sector. There was an abundance of fringe events on the life sciences and their importance to the economy. During the conference, it was great to hear the Science Minister David Willetts and George Freeman both express their appreciation for the unique contribution made by medical research charities in the UK.

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the conferences. All of the parliamentarians attending have commented on how useful the sessions were for them and have promised to take the issues raised back to parliament for further discussion. We would also like to thank our colleagues and co-hosts  for all their work in organizing the three meetings.

You can read more from Charles Rowett on the issues he discussed at the round table and his time at the conference on the Yorkshire Cancer Research blog here.

BIVDA have done three great blogs on each conference meeting as well (with much more detail): Lib Dems, Labour and Conservative.

Posted in: Policy