Yesterday kick started our series of party conference breakfast roundtables. It was a disappointingly grey day on the Brighton seafront but nonetheless we had a full house and lively discussion for our Liberal Democrat roundtable.
For these events we have teamed up with our Life Science UK colleagues – The BioIndustry Association, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the Association of British Healthcare Industries – and the Association of Medical Research Charities for the third year in a row.
The title for all three conference breakfasts will be: Making new treatments available to all patients Supporting medical research and the uptake of innovative products. In attendance was a broad range of industry, charity and academic representatives. From the Liberal Democrat party there was Roger Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and member of the Science and Technology Committee and Dr Evan Harris, former MP, science policy blogger and medical doctor.
Dr Evan Harris and Roger Williams MP kindly attended our Liberal Democrat conference breakfast
The discussion started with a case study by Professor Nish Chaturvedi of the British Heart Foundation exploring the regulation of data and how it impacts on medical research. Roger Williams MP then spoke about the current work of the committee. He also made clear that although the coalition had ringfenced science research inflation is having a negative effect on this and it remains important that the Treasury and Vince Cable be informed of this and convinced that this is an area worth investing in.
After further discussion, and agreement that Mr Williams will relay the room’s thoughts to the committee, there was a further case study from David Newman at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). With Andrew Crockett of Kalvista, he discussed the benefits of their charity-industry partnership. Mr Crockett emphasised that working with the JDRF helped to ‘de-risk’ investment in Kalvista and with access to R&D. He also cited the Technology Strategy Board’s Biocatalyst Fund as instrumental in moving the project forward, along with the ‘real economic benefit’ of The Patent Box.
As the conversation moved toward NICE Francoise Poulichet of Roche Diagnostics gave an overview of the impacts of NICE guidelines on the implementation of insulin pumps. She said that the UK is lucky to have NICE guidelines and many countries look up to NICE as an exemplar but it is slow with regard to uptake and it is the job of industry to keep the pressure on.
Concluding comments from Mr Williams were that science is a British ‘national treasure’ and must stay attractive domestically and internationally. He restated that he will take the comments of the room back to the Science and Technology Committee.