However, that seems to have passed, with those areas bouncing back strongly. In the meantime, pharma sector players such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer have become the subject of household discussions.
Although a challenging time, the sector has shown exciting innovation, which are positive signs:
The pandemic response has rapidly accelerated the innovation that was already taking place. The pharma industry and regulators have been looking for faster development, approval and roll-out of life-changing medicines, there have been key collaborations for some time, and there have been huge strides in the use of real-world data and genomics in recent years. The pandemic has acted as a catalyst.
The UK Government continues to see life sciences as a key industry and has new plans it is putting forward with a focus on an innovation agenda. The UK also continues to benefit from its unique position in having leading academic institutions, big pharma and the ability to tap into NHS patient data.
There are challenges for the UK in a post-Brexit world, with regulatory divergence from the EU and trade and access to skilled labour not being as straightforward. However, the UK continues to work with the EU as well as setting up new partnerships with others such as India. The pandemic response has also given huge cause for optimism and has shown how the UK is such an exciting place to be for life sciences.
The big question is: where to go from here? Will the strides made in the last 18 months be translated into other disease areas such as cardiovascular, cancer, Alzheimer’s, rare diseases and the growing threat of anti-microbial resistance that could see tens of millions of people die following routine surgery by 2050 unless new antibiotics are discovered? Will there be the same drive without an immediate global emergency?
PING (Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group), the VWV law firm not-for-profit initiative, will be examining these issues with leading speakers at a Conference – 'UK Life Sciences Opportunities in a Changed World' – for our clients and others from innovative start-ups through to established suppliers, distributors, wholesalers and others in the biopharma ecosystem later this year. Find out more about the event.
This article was first published in Business Leader.