How much is a generic drug worth to a payer? More than £350 million, for the U.K.'s National Health Service anyway. That's how much it saved during the first 12 months after Pfizer's Lipitor went off patent, the generic industry's trade association says.
A Unite official called the move--expected by 2016 after AstraZeneca builds a major new headquarters and R&D facility in the science hub--both a massive blow to the regional economy as well as a possible spoiler for research productivity at a time the company is facing some stiff headwinds.
Today two countries on opposite sides of the world took radically different stances on pharma patents that will have a big impact on the future of drug R&D.
First, AstraZeneca announced plans for a major R&D reorganization aimed at putting its scientists closer to the action inside a major global biotech hub. Now comes the union backlash, complete with rumblings of a possible strike aimed at forcing the new CEO to backpedal on the move.
Johnson & Johnson has prominently planted its R&D flag in London. Today the giant pharma company officially opened up its new innovation center in the U.K., one of four scientific and business development outposts around the world charged with building J&J's ties to the biotech industry and academia as it fosters new development deals.
As part of an ongoing campaign to streamline the clinical trial process in hopes of spurring its drug R&D industry, U.K. officials are preparing to dismantle patent rules which make it difficult for developers to compare their experimental therapies with currently used standards in clinical studies.
Regulators in the U.K. and Europe have been been tightfisted with what they will spend on drugs, creating financial pressures on companies. But the home country of the U.K. will be spared when GlaxoSmithKline begins making cuts to manufacturing to save costs this year.
Britain's National Health Service must take a larger role in helping the country exploit advances in genetic sequencing and DNA testing in order for care in the U.K. to modernize, experts argue.
Last year, Novartis spent $9.5 billion on R&D, grabbing boasting rights for the biggest research budget in the global pharma industry. And now the Swiss company is sending a pointed message to British officials that they had better sharpen up their innovation game if they expect the company to continue spending a big portion of that treasure chest in the U.K.
A slate of new life science research initiatives has gained $300 million in financial support from a public/private partnership in the U.K. The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund is helping coordinate new collaborations on cancer drug research, rare diseases, eye drugs as well as a sustainable chemistry program involving GlaxoSmithKline. And it's all part of a £1 billion plan ($1.6 billion) to reenergize the country's science industry.