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Drug industry broke promises on medical research, say experts

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1021 (Published 02 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1021
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

Drug companies have failed to keep their side of the bargain struck in the ambitious UK biosciences strategy, says its principal author, David Cooksey.

Speaking at a seminar about medical research in the UK and the 2006 creation of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), he said that he was “hugely disappointed” by what had happened since the strategy was published in 2003 by the Biosciences Industry Growth Taskforce, which he chaired. The aim of the report was to make the UK a better place for innovation in the biosciences, and the report had strong industry involvement.

“During the gestation of the report I had a huge come-on from the pharmaceutical companies for what I was trying to do,” Cooksey said. “But in fact they have largely removed themselves from basic research. To me, that is a huge disappointment because we were looking for parallel effort from the industry.

“AstraZeneca now has only 7500 people working in the UK; Pfizer has closed the Sandwich laboratory; and Roche, who promised Gordon Brown [then chancellor of the exchequer] that they would put 30% of their research into the UK, didn’t.” He was also strongly critical of the industry’s pricing policies.

Cooksey, a businessman and …

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