Professor Sir John Bell appeared before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee today, to discuss what he hoped to see out of the implementation of his Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and the ‘sector deal’ that is to be announced shortly.
When asked whether the NHS and Government departments had been able collaborate efficiently as to deliver the strategy, he stated that the NHS did have to ‘come up to speed’ with the industry. Professor Bell spoke of the need to ‘develop a sustainable innovation cycle that works its way through clinical development, manufacturing and then adoption’, adding that the current break in the cycle often comes with adoption and that the NHS would therefore have to find a way to adopt innovation more effectively.
Professor Bell was also asked by Lord Kakkar, whether the inclusion of five innovations as part of the Accelerated Access Pathway was sufficiently ambitious, Bell stated that he himself had chosen this number, and noted that it was important to ‘not be inundated’ at the start of the programme. He reassured the Committee that this would be a starting point that would be expanded on in the future.
He did, however, voice concerns about the possible lack of funding to allow adoption and diffusion of innovative technologies, stating that there was a worrying risk that innovation would enter the AAR process, and then fail to be diffused through the healthcare system because of limited funds.
Professor Bell’s comments come before the announcement of the life sciences sector deal, full details of which are expected tomorrow. The deal is expected to see a US-based life sciences investment fund invest up to $1bn to create a large biotech company in the UK and highlight investment commitments by several pharma companies, including GlaxoSmithKline. Professor Bell noted encouragingly, that this too would be the first wave in a series of investments in the life sciences sector.