The i - 'Financing the Pharma Innovation Gap - Who Will Pay?'

This was the title of The Big Debate 2011 organised by OBN and SCRIP and held last night at the Tower Hotel in London.

With a panel of speakers from pharma, VC's, investment banking and the House of Lords the aim was to provoke debate about the difficulties faced by biotec companies in raising sufficient funds to translate academic research and develop it through phase II trials ready for acquisition or partnership with a larger international orgnisation.

Whilst the panelists all recognised the difficulties faced there was no clear concensus regarding a solution. For some the attitudes of drug regulators towards acceptable levels of risk at the point of market authorisation echoed the prevailing mood in the UK of risk-aversion held by investors, others pointed to the level of wasted funds as a consequence of the high failure rate of drugs in the clinic as justification for the introduction of more rigourus screening of potential molecules at an early stage of development so  that existing funds are not wasted. What was clear form the debate was that no new funds are likely to be forthcoming instead it was accepted that there needs to be closer collaboration between universities, biotecs, funding bodies and pharma companies to ensure that the money that does exist is invested wisely and the knowledge and experience of those closest to market is effectively fed back further up the chain.

The i is not convinced that this was quite the 'foundation for a manifesto to call on Government' that the organisers were hoping for but it is a pragmatic answer to one of the sector's most pressing needs and one that everyone involved can work towards achieving.

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