Press Release

Published: 27 June 2024

Revitalising the UK's Life Sciences Sector - Charting Progress to Improve Commercial Competitiveness

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Contact: Dominic Parker, Senior Communications and Media Manager | 020 7290 9882 | +44 7500 115352

BritishAmerican Business (BAB) has today released a new report, assessing the state of the commercial environment for the UK life sciences sector and calling for continued government intervention to strengthen the UK’s competitive edge. 

The report provides a comprehensive update on the progress made, one year on from BAB’s UK life sciences White Paper, published in May 2023.  It offers targeted recommendations to policymakers which seek to address sectoral issues across three areas: Commercial Environment, Clinical Trials, and Trade & IP. 

Over the past few years, both private and public stakeholders have recognised the declining vibrancy of the UK’s life sciences sector. The report reveals cautious optimism about the sector’s recovery. While there are signs of progress, including improved regulatory performance for clinical trials and bright spots of investments at both the public and private level, significant challenges remain, particularly in ensuring downstream access for innovative drugs and technologies to reach patients and caregivers. 

With life sciences being an integral pillar of both the UK economy, and the transatlantic business relationship, driving innovation, growth and collaborative advancements in healthcare, the report notes the following progress being made in the past 12 months: 

      • Strategic interventions including the publication of the O’Shaughnessy Review on clinical trials and the Lord Harrington review on FDI. 
      • A clearing of the backlog of clinical trial approvals sitting with the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).  
      • Introduction of the £650 million ‘Life Sci for Growth’ package to boost sector growth. 
      • Digitalisation of the NHS with a £3.4 billion allocation for digital infrastructure enhancements, facilitating faster clinical trial setups and improved data access. 
      • Re-joining the EU Horizon programme, providing access to European research talent and funding. 
      • Negotiation of a new effective deal on drug pricing (VPAG), balancing innovation with NHS sustainability, and creating a greater level of certainty for business and investors. 
      • A strengthened partnership between the US and UK in IP protection which is important for the sector, particularly in the context of AI.

While these developments are welcomed, BAB argues that there’s still a lot of work to be done to reverse the slow decline of the sector. The report recommends that the UK government continue its efforts in three areas: 

Commercial Environment – Ensure greater alignment between stakeholders in the ecosystem to maintain consistency and delivery of the Voluntary Pricing Access & Growth (VPAG) scheme and its commitments. 

Clinical Trials – Implement the O’Shaughnessy Review’s recommendations in full, with clear timelines, accountability, and funding. Addressing the downstream aspects in the deployment of clinical trials is of particular significance. 

Trade and IP – Maintain the highest IP protection standards in a domestic and multilateral context, as well as a strengthen transatlantic collaboration to support the growth of the sector through regulatory exchanges, biotechnology & bioscience development, and the use of AI. 

BritishAmerican Business CEO Duncan Edwards said: 

“The UK life sciences sector is showing encouraging signs of recovery, but continued action and commitment are essential to regain and sustain global leadership. The collaboration between government and industry will be pivotal in driving innovation and investment. 

“Delivering on the recommendations outlined in this report will go a long way to ensuring the UK restores its competitive edge in life sciences, and we call on the incoming government to prioritise this important sector which can help boost health outcomes as well as drive economic growth.” 

About BritishAmerican Business

BritishAmerican Business is the leading transatlantic trade association incorporating the British-American Chamber of Commerce in the US and the American Chamber of Commerce in the UK.

We are committed to strengthening the economic corridor between the United States and the United Kingdom by supporting policies and actions that protect and enhance the environment for transatlantic trade and investment on behalf of our members.

We convene and serve a growing network of companies and business leaders through networking opportunities, bespoke programming and marketing platforms.

We actively promote trade and investment and support those who make the transatlantic corridor part of their business growth ambition.