I do try to live up to my Tunbridge Wells postcode by firing off regular ‘disgusted’ letters to the press and, in particular, The Daily Telegraph (DT).
On Monday Erik Nordkamp, Pfizer’s Managing Director, wrote this article about the importance of the life sciences industry to a post-Brexit economic strategy.
So I sent this to the Editor about the importance of public support as a foundation for this strategy:
I could not agree more with Erik Nordkamp’s view that our life sciences industry will be vital to the UK’s post-Brexit economic strategy (Make life sciences the industrial key to Brexit-Britain, Business, Monday 5th September 2016).
However, I hope he would also recognise the importance of patients and the public to the future of the life sciences industry in this country and to the pivotal role it might play in the months and years ahead.
The UK’s medical research charity sector worth over £1 billion, our international leadership in involving patients in designing and delivery research that matters to them, the altruistic drive in our society and culture that leads hundreds of thousands of patients to volunteer to take part in clinical trials in the NHS, and public support for new research that pushes the boundaries of understanding.
Few nations can say that they share one of these features with the UK. Very few can point to having all four working in synergy as we can so that, collectively, they represent a potentially significant competitive advantage on the world stage.
I truly believe we can turn this potential advantage into a potentially world-beating one. But it will depend on us being courageous enough to forge a more open and inclusive partnership with the public in how we make medicines. And that must start with patients and the public being part of this dialogue. For it is their insights and priorities that must drive the science of tomorrow.
As I told the delegates at yesterday’s UK Cystic Fibrosis Conference if anyone ever asks: ‘what’s the British public ever done for UK health research?’ it is the following:
Money (£1bn worth of charity donations on top of our taxes)
Political support for cutting-edge work like stem cell, hybrid embryo research etc.
Hundreds of thousands of people stepping forward to voluntarily take part in research
Research of a higher quality – better designed, more effective, more efficient – because of public involvement and our passion and commitment to be ‘part of it.’