At the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA)’s annual conference last month in Liverpool, UK, the organization outlined the relevant manifesto promises of the three main parties in the country.
Industry in the UK has faced a number of challenges in recent times, most of which have developed out of the referendum decision for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) and the resulting political uncertainty.
BIA has previously criticized the lack of clarity regarding the direction of Brexit and what it will mean for the industry, stating that this had led BIA member companies planning for ‘every scenario’.
Over a year on from such comments, Steve Bates, CEO of BIA, repeated a similar message, to some degree, when he confirmed that the organization was planning for all election outcomes, ahead of the vote tomorrow.
“[Following] the referendum, we need to be ready for all eventualities and I’ll make sure BIA is ready to work under all eventualities,” Bates said.
Measuring the manifestos
With the manifestos released shortly before the annual meeting, Bates, who was made an OBE in 2017 for 'services to innovation' under the Conservative government, ran through what he saw as the headline proposals from each party.
Regarding the Conservative party conference, Bates stated, “It was great to see the Conservatives are really invested in the life science sector. They have promised a £200m ($263m) investment fund for the scale up of life science businesses.”
In addition, he noted that Will Warr, health adviser to Boris Johnson, had attended a breakfast meeting with BIA during the conference.
On further manifesto promises, Bates said, “We saw a commitment of £500m to innovative drugs through the Cancer Drug Fund, which, again, shows you their commitment to putting the life sciences front and center.”
On the Labour Party’s proposals, Bates stated that the industry had received them less than enthusiastically.
Bates outlined Labour’s plans for the healthcare system in the UK, as they were presented in its Medicines for the Many policy document.
“They issued this document, which takes a particular perspective on how we might enable drugs to be made. It talks about nationalizing generic drug manufacture, breaking patents and using alternative processes to develop drugs,” Bates outlined.
Bates continued to say that this would be “very difficult for our industry,” continuing to say that he had found no advocates for Labour’s proposals from within the industry.
He also referred to plans to phase out R&D tax credits for large corporations as a ‘significant challenge’.
In contrast, regarding the Liberal Democrats proposals, Bates welcomed their suggestions for increasing R&D credits.