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Reaction to Labour's Life Sciences Strategy

Mark Samuels, Chief Executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) said: “Any Government’s life science strategy must ensure it reflects the full breadth of the UK’s medicines industry. Generic medicines are four out of five drugs used by the NHS. Yet, incredibly, they have been entirely overlooked by the current Government’s strategy. This has to change to sustain the resilience of generic and biosimilar medicines – drugs that save the NHS £15 billion annually and allow more patients to be treated. Excluding generic drugs from the current Government’s life sciences vision is why we have so many medicine shortages.

“In its strategy, we are pleased that the Labour Party will set and monitor targets for regulatory approval timelines. However, it will be necessary not just to prioritise new medicines and trials but also where new versions of off-patent medicines are being launched, as a healthy competitive market can save the NHS hundreds of millions and provide for a more resilient drug supply that mitigates the impact of shortages.

“It is also good to see Labour's call for the UK to push for mutual recognition where the UK and other drug regulators are working to internationally recognised standards. Key to this is working with the EU to get it to recognise batch testing done on UK soil.

“It is right that there is a comprehensive innovation and adoption strategy, but this must not exclude biosimilar medicines. Biosimilars offer an exceptional opportunity for the NHS to widen patient access to the best treatments while saving the NHS billions. Ensuring that the NHS takes full advantage of this is essential for a sustainable NHS.

“Finally, the Labour Party has committed to aligning its intellectual property stance in future trade agreements against TRIPS. However, any future trade deals must not create an IP regime that pushes up the cost of medicines for the NHS.

“We look forward to engaging with the Labour Party as it continues its policy development up to the General Election.”