AstraZeneca’s reiteration of its previously announced freeze on investments in U.K. manufacturing has caused alarm among politicians. In the fevered pre-Brexit environment, pro-Remain politicians saw the reiteration of an old position as evidence the split from the U.K. will decimate life science research.
The excitement stems from a comment AstraZeneca chairman Leif Johansson made to French newspaper Le Monde. Johansson said AstraZeneca would maintain its decision not to invest in the U.K. if there is no transition deal that clarifies the terms of the post-Brexit relationship with the European Union. The comment was seized upon by politicians opposed to Brexit.
“More grim #BrexitReality as AstraZeneca halts investment in U.K. No one voted to decimate medical research,” Sarah Wollaston, a pro-Remain MP, doctor and chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, wrote on Twitter.
Wollaston was not the only public figure to see implications for U.K. life science research in Johansson’s comments. Phillip Lee, a politician who resigned over the government’s approach to Brexit, made a similar link to Wollaston, stating “we need to keep our world-class research base if we want our pharmaceutical industry to survive and thrive.”
The fears are somewhat divorced from the current reality, though. While certain outcomes to Brexit could feasibly affect AstraZeneca’s investment in R&D in the U.K., as it stands the company is pushing ahead with its projects.
“Things are as they were nearly 18 months ago,” a spokesperson for AstraZeneca said. “The freeze is on the manufacturing side. The Cambridge stuff, the R&D, that’s unchanged.”
While Johansson’s comments were seen as a bombshell in some quarters, they are a continuation of a position AstraZeneca adopted last year. Back then, CEO Pascal Soriot told the Financial Times AstraZeneca was holding off on new investments in U.K. manufacturing until there was clarity over the future regulatory regime and relationship to the EU.
By Nick Paul Taylor
Source: Fierce Biotech
Big Pharma has long seen the potential for AI and machine learning to accelerate drug development. But Novo Nordisk is going a step further by channeling $200 million toward the creation of a computer that will outrun anything in existence.
Current methods for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease rely on a complex combination of self- and caregiver-reported symptoms, a physical examination and either a PET scan or a spinal tap to look for evidence of amyloid plaque build-ups in the brain. But a new artificial intelligence-based method may make the diagnostic process a much more objective one.
There is lots of talk about diversity and inclusion in business, including in pharma and medtech. A new report by the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), a think tank focusing on migration and diversity, released its “Minority Businesses Matter: Europe” report highlighting the successes and challenges of ethnic minority-owned businesses in Europe.