New drugs now: UK provides funds for smaller drug makers

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags European union

The UK government has announced £6m ($7.8m) funding for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to speed up access to new medicines.

The funding is part of a Department of Health-organised £86m initiative​ supporting UK businesses to develop and test medical breakthroughs.

Department of Health spokesperson Naomi Agius told in-PharmaTechnologist a lack of financial support can hinder smaller pharmaceutical companies’ progress.

“The process of developing new healthcare products is fraught with uncertainty and expense and these burdens disproportionately affect SMEs.”

The Department said the backing will be used to support SMEs test products in real world settings, in order to inform commissioning and adoption decisions.

“This scheme will support SMEs overcome these ​[financial] barriers by generating the evidence the NHS needs for robust assessment of a product’s benefit and value for money, and enable patients and the healthcare system to benefit from earlier access to evaluated innovative products.”

Agius did not disclose which companies will receive funding, but said SME support – provided by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) – will be issued in £2m instalments over three years, and is targeted at products participating in the Early Access to Medicines Scheme​ (EAMS).

Brexit implications

The announcement comes as the UK prepares to exit the European Union in March 2019, and just weeks after industry representatives voiced concerns​ about the negative impact Brexit may have on patients and the UK’s drug manufacturing sector.

Earlier this month pharmaceutical industry groups sent a warning letter​ to UK Brexit Minister David Davis warning that unless Ministers safeguard existing approvals and continue to cooperate with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), UK patients will face drug shortages.

In May, the European Commission and the EMA warned​ that British firms not ‘established in the EU’ are likely to face disruption post-Brexit.

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