Monday saw the Science Mnister, David Willetts, and Health Minister, Earl Howe, announce what are being called therapeutic capability clusters (research consortia) at the ABPI/BIA conference in London. PharmaLetter has an article on it and what I think is the formal news release can be found on Pharma Live.
Don’t be fooled by the PR speak which makes it sound as though this entity has just been launched. As the MRC comment implies, work on getting this thing off the ground has been going on for months – well before the General Election. But going public is significant in the sense it means that the potential hurdles standing in the way of its feasibility – like pharmaceutical companies sharing their data – have been overcome.
It’s unfortunate – he says in a rather grumpy way – that no one seems to have mentioned the involvement of some leading charity funders up to this point such as Arthritis Research UK. In actual fact it is worth pointing out that the Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) has been very pro-active in engaging releveant charities in the two therapeutic areas concerned – inflammatory and immune diseases.
On the back of the spending review I would also say that yesterday’s news is quite an important political vote of support for OSCHR and it’s role in engineering partnership working for clinical research. In the run-up to 20th October there were some whispers that OSCHR might change/migrate/vanish etc etc. But this very tangible initiative and the up-front way in which it is being badged with OSCHR’s name by Ministers indicates that its place in the world is much more scure.