Last week’s announcement that Bruntwood SciTech are joining the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Health Partners to secure the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus is very good news, especially on the jobs front, in these otherwise dreadful times.
It puts Birmingham at the forefront of medical research with the prospect of new drugs, treatments and medical technologies. The 10-year investment plan, worth around £210million, has the potential to create 10,000 new jobs, everything from scientists and researchers to technicians and cleaners.
The bogey man is the government’s deathly silence over the European Medicines Agency. Our very young and diverse population makes Birmingham an ideal place for medical trials and research. However, research experiments, as well as the regulation and approval of drugs and treatments are the responsibility of the European Medicines Agency. It used to have its headquarters in London and helped promote Britain’s place as a world leader in medical research but it’s now moved to Amsterdam as we continue to sever our relationships with the EU. I don’t plan to revisit that particular argument but I do want to know what the future for research, approval and regulation of medicines will be. That part of the Prime Minister’s oven ready deal needs defrosting rapidly.
I know many people thought we’d left Brexit behind because the Prime Minister said so. Sadly, as we struggle to cope with his zigzagging over coronavirus, we’ve come to recognise that not everything he says turns out to be true. Sometimes he’s just another guy whistling in the wind and hoping for the best.
That isn’t good enough! We need to know about the government’s plans for biopharma, medtech and precision healthcare outside the European Medicines Agency. The future of our fledgling Innovation Campus and all those jobs might depend on it. Without a deal, our medicines and treatments could cost more and we’ll almost certainly wait longer for them. We’ve already witnessed delays and the last thing we need is a shortage of medicines. Current arrangements cover everything from cancer drugs to blood pressure pills. There’s just over 70 days to get this sorted.