Monday saw members of the life sciences community descend upon the Palace of Westminster for the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences. Around 140 people, including representatives from industry, Parliament, academia, the health service and the charitable sector, packed into the Jubilee Room in the House of Commons to attend the launch, which featured opening remarks by Kit Malthouse MP, chair of the group, and a speech from George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences.
BIVDA members form part of a packed audience in the House of Commons
The event, as well as introducing the ambitions of the group to champion and promote the sector as a whole within Parliament, brought together people from across the life sciences sector, including around 25 BIVDA members, to meet and discuss the various issues faced by the industry today. Life Sciences UK (LSUK), consisting of BIVDA, ABHI, ABPI and BIA, will provide the Secretariat for the APPG.
BIVDA literature on display to parliamentarians, external stakeholders and the wider life sciences community
Kit Malthouse began by outlining the intentions of the APPG to ‘raise awareness and understanding’ of the life sciences industry, which gives ‘a triple win of making money, saving money, and also curing disease’. He said that he wanted life sciences to ‘rival financial services’, so that it ‘ranked alongside, not just in terms of volume but also in terms of esteem’. He then went on to introduce George Freeman as the ‘first and only life sciences minister in the world’, praising his efforts to ‘encourage innovation’.
‘I firmly believe that it’s one of the most vital industries for the future of the United Kingdom if not the world’ Kit Malthouse MP
George Freeman MP (left), Minister for Life Sciences, with Kit Malthouse MP (right), chair of the APPG
George Freeman spoke of ‘adopting innovation to give us more health for every pound we spend’ – ‘diagnosing earlier, treating smarter’ – and highlighted the work currently being done as part of the Accelerated Access Review. He emphasised the significant contribution of the life sciences industry to both the health and wealth of the nation, stating that ‘this sector is doing extraordinary things for the economy’. This was followed by a brief question and answer session, which touched on a range of topics, including interaction between the APPG and the life sciences industry, the future of genomics and informatics in the UK, and the relationship of bodies such as NICE and MHRA with industry.
A networking session followed, allowing people from different areas within the life sciences sector to meet and share their thoughts and concerns as we head into the new Parliament. There was also an interactive element to the launch thanks to Alere, who provided a topical example of a diagnostic test related to reducing antibiotic usage. Mr Malthouse was the first to be tested! The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) also displayed their current work in developing innovative forms of medicines manufacturing through the Modular MicroReaction System (MMRS).
Alere provided an example of diagnostic technology
Needless to say, whilst individual companies face a variety of different issues over the next 5 years, there is certainly some common ground on which the APPG can base its activity. Following a successful launch event, the APPG will now plan to meet several times a year to discuss the life sciences and how it can best aid this healthcare environment, funneling major concerns into Parliament so that the sector can continue to grow and flourish. The attendance of Liz McInnes MP and Maggie Throup MP, two parliamentarians with a particular interest in IVDs, and Iain Wright MP, the Shadow Minister for Industry, bodes well for the future of the group, and BIVDA is extremely excited by the opportunity this presents. We will of course keep members informed of the group’s activity over the coming years.
Find a link to the press release for the event here and BIVDA’s storify here.
(left to right) Richard Devereaux-Phillips (ABHI), Alison Clough (ABPI), Kit Malthouse MP, Steve Bates (BIA), and Doris-Ann
All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are informal cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament. They are run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, though many involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.
The Parliamentary officers of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Life Sciences are:
- Chair: Kit Malthouse MP, Conservative Member for North West Hampshire
- Vice-Chair: The Rt Hon Lord Drayson, Labour Member of the House of Lords
- Vice-Chair: Liz McInnes MP, Labour Member for Heywood and Middleton
- Vice-Chair: Daniel Zeichner MP, Labour Member for Cambridge
- Treasurer: John Glen MP, Conservative Member for Salisbury
- Secretary: Chris Green MP, Conservative Member for Bolton West