Novartis Warns Jobs May Go Overseas

The Government must tackle the red-tape and research hold-ups hampering Britain’s pharmaceutical industry or risk seeing jobs and investment disappear overseas, one of the industry’s leading companies has warned. Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis has arranged a crisis meeting of scientists, NHS trustees and Government officials starting today in London in a bid to streamline Britain’s “haphazard” approach to medical research and development (R&D). Science Minister David Willetts is due to attend the meeting, thought to be the first to unite representatives of Big Pharma and the medical profession on a large scale. In a stark warning to the Government ahead of the Autumn Statement, Jon Symonds, global finance director of Novartis, which allocates $10bn in R&D a year, will say that Britain is losing competitiveness to emerging markets and Asia. Ahead of the meeting, Mr Symonds told The Daily Telegraph, that while the UK has made “great strides” in supporting life sciences, the Government must be more radical and move far faster. He said bringing a drug to an NHS trust, securing clinical trials and getting approval, is inefficient and takes too long. “It should be a seamless process but instead it takes an enormous amount of time and energy, during which we lose money,” he said. It can cost $1bn to bring a new drug to market, he said, but pharmaceutical companies usually just get a few months before a patent runs out so delays in getting trials and approval can be make or break. Yet often NHS trusts are slow to take-up new drugs or help organise trials.

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