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U.K. drug discovery landscape in fundamental shift
LONDON—Some 60 percent of major pharmaceutical companies have increased investment in outsourced and collaborative drug discovery work in the United Kingdom over the last 10 years, while simultaneously decreasing the number of in-house drug discovery lab staff, according to a new report published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
“The Changing UK Drug Discovery Landscape” report is, the ABPI says, “the first evidence base of the new networked model underpinning the early research and development of new medicines, and details a shift towards greater partnership working across the biopharmaceutical sector.”
The findings come from a survey of approximately 70 leading organizations in the field, alongside interviews with senior drug discovery experts.
The findings reportedly show how the traditional pharmaceutical industry business model has evolved over the last decade and highlights how companies now proactively seek opportunities to collaborate with academia, medical research charities, contract research organizations (CROs) and biotech companies to maximize the potential of recent advances in science and technology.
The current strength of academic biosciences in the United Kingdom is reflected in particularly high levels of collaborative work on target identification and validation, the report indicates. “Understanding the causes and pathways of diseases, and therefore identifying possible targets for new medicines to intervene, is an essential starting point for developing new therapies, and it is therefore encouraging to see the U.K.’s continued strength in this area. Better target identification and validation is crucial in reducing costly late-stage failures of new medicines,” ABPI notes.
However, the research also indicates that the United Kingdom’s heritage as a pioneer in drug discovery is potentially under threat. The report evidences that while many companies have increased their investment in discovery in the United Kingdom, contributing to the £4 billion spent annually on research and development in Britain by the pharmaceutical industry, the country is beginning to lose out proportionally on global drug discovery investment compared to 10 years ago.
“This new report presents an important baseline for understanding where the U.K. drug discovery landscape has come from, and where it is heading in the future. The findings of the report reflecting a dynamic, changing and complex drug discovery landscape that is increasingly moving to a networked model and away from large, fully integrated organizations conducting R&D in isolation,” said Dr. Neil Weir, chair of the ABPI Innovation Board and senior vice president of discovery research at UCB Pharma.