US$ 45.9 million for life sciences research announced at British Business Embassy

Wednesday, 19 September 2012 00:41 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Ministers announced substantial new funding awards to boost the UK life sciences industry, when around 300 UK and international delegates met in London for the British Business Embassy Life Sciences summit during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The event also focused on how translational research can be used to develop novel therapeutics and medical technologies and examine the expanding role of informatics and digital technology in healthcare delivery.

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley and Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts announced that the first awards amounting to US$ 15.9 million from the UK Government’s US$ 285.5 million Biomedical Catalyst have been awarded to 14 UK universities and 18 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

These awards from the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board will support UK academics and businesses on the first vital step in exploring the market potential of their early-stage scientific ideas.

“The UK has one of the world’s largest and most productive life science sectors. We have cutting edge industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical technologies. We attract almost 10 per cent of the world’s pharmaceutical R&D funding,” said Minister David Willetts.

He also announced that the Medical Research Council and a consortium of 10 UK Government and charity research funders have invested US$ 30 million to establish four e-health research centres which will enable the UK to make more effective use of electronic health data – a field with huge possibilities for health care delivery and the understanding of disease.

The UK’s research is the most productive and efficient in the G8. It produces more publications and citations per researcher and per pound of public funding than any of its major competitors. UK scientists are some of the best in the world, winning 76 Nobel prizes for their scientific achievements.

In early August, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Olympic drug-testing laboratories, located in Harlow, will be converted into a US$15.9 million world-class research centre.

The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, the first of its kind in the world, will use cutting edge facilities developed for London 2012 to enable researchers to explore the characteristics of disease in order to develop new drugs and treatments for patients with a wide range of common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

The UK’s medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors generate US$ 23.7 billion, US$ 5.4 billion and US$ 50.4 billion of annual turnover respectively. Together, they employ some 164,800 individuals; additionally, around 52,000 individuals are employed by 37 global pharmaceutical companies who have operations in the UK.

Having a long history in the country and a strong success story for the UK’s involvement in Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – the British multinational pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare company. GSK has been entrenched in Sri Lanka’s health-care industry for over 50 years, having set up one of the country’s first pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in the late 1950s.

The pharmaceutical-retail market in Sri Lanka is valued at over US$ 76 million and GSK holds a share of around 7.5%. GSK continues to sustain its position in this market despite stiff competition from branded generics as well as pure generics. GSK also leads the field in vaccines and is the most trusted marketer of vaccines for children and adults in the country.

It is interesting to note that one fourth of all vaccines used in the world are from GSK and 80% of this is in the developing world. They also market other products, many of which are among market leaders, making it one of the largest pharmaceutical entities in Sri Lanka. The company further expanded its Sri Lankan operation through its investment in a US$ 11.2 million Panadol manufacturing plant, opened in April this year.

Furthermore, GSK continues to make significant contributions to the ongoing medical education of healthcare professionals in Sri Lanka as a part of its commitment to develop and improve the quality of local medical care.

GSK has organised many medical education symposia for Sri Lankan doctors and has also made investments to share international knowledge among the local medical community. GSK has also undertaken a series of chemist-education meetings, held annually in all major towns in Sri Lanka, with the hope of improving the standards of medical care concerning the dispensing of drugs through chemists.