Like the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and the British Biosimilars Association (BBA), the UK’s Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult was against the country leaving the UK before June’s historic referendum.
But CEO Keith Thompson told Biopharma-Reporter today that the UK’s pharmaceutical sector is yet to have felt any impact from the result and will likely remain strong even after article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered, beginning an irreversible and unchartered exit from the common market.
“You play the hand that you are dealt, and I can’t imagine that we won’t end up in a system without regulatory reciprocation for cross-border trade and clinical trial equivalence - I know regulators are working on it,” he said.
“There is uncertainty but the basic message is the UK can, and will, continue to work with both the EU and with global partners going forward.” He added there may even be an upside with the UK free to develop its own specific pathways suited for the UK’s market needs.
As for the burgeoning cell and gene therapy industry, he told us whether in or out of Europe, cumulative investment is unlikely to stop due to “the UK leading the way in Europe” thanks – in part – to the outcomes of projects undertaken by the CGT Catapult, a government funded incentive conceived in 2012 aimed at encouraging scientific research and manufacturing in the sector.
Cell & gene therapy powerhouse
In 2015, over £400m was invested in the cell and gene therapy industry compared to just £35m in 2012, according to figures presented at the inaugural UK Regenerative Medicine Conference in London.
While Thompson was clear that some companies have raised money off their own backs, the CGT Catapult has supported a number of companies to a point where they have received private funding.
“One example is we worked with Regeneron right from the beginning helping them develop manufacturing technologies, processes etc. When we started, they were struggling but as a consequence of our help they since raised around £100m. They would say themselves it led to credibility having backing by us.”
He also added the CGT Catapult has also been instrumental in making the regulatory landscape more appealing, by expediting approval times for candidates to go into trial.
“It used to take over a year, but now we’re working with the MHRA [the UK’s regulatory body] it takes just a couple of month to set up a site to begin a trial.”
Since its conception, the CGT Catapult has received approximately £70m in core funding, £55m for a manufacturing centre in Stevenage and leveraged as further £27m in collaborative R&D grants.