Launch of Early Access Scheme to Innovative Medicines

Today marked the launch of the Early Access to Innovative Medicines Scheme. The Scheme will accelerate access to innovative medicines in the NHS, something I have been championing as Government Life Science Advisor over the last two and a half years. It is a hugely important initiative for the smaller biotech and emerging Pharma companies, who have been struggling with NHS rationing of new medicines in recent years. 
In the last decade, the UK has slipped down the league tables and attracted a reputation for ‘low and slow’ rates of adoption of innovative medicines.  I believe the breakdown of the old Big Pharma model of ‘blockbuster’ drug design, and the shift towards Targeted or Personalised Medicines creates a real opportunity for the UK.  The ability to use the NHS's unique 30 year clinical records database and the UK's leadership in medical genomics to lead in the new model of 21st medicine in which drugs are designed around patients ('Stratified' Medicine) offers a huge win for the UK: faster access for NHS patients to new drugs, huge inward investment from global life science companies seeking faster access to the all-important clinical validation in the NHS, and a New Deal on drug pricing with NHS getting drugs much more cheaply.
We set out the vision of an Early Access scheme in the Prime Minister’s speech launching the Life Science Strategy in December 2011. I was delighted to have been invited to work with Department of Health Ministers and officials to design a Scheme and put this vital piece of the Life Science Strategy into place.
The Scheme will cut the delay patients currently face in getting access to treatments for serious conditions where no remedy currently exists. It has the potential to make the UK the laboratory of new medicines, with huge benefits to the UK Life Science Sector as well as to NHS patients, inward investment in our NHS and NIHR Research labs,  and our medical research charities.
The news of the launch of the scheme has been warmly welcomed by research charities, patient groups and the life science sector.

Big Tent Ideas Festival

Politics is undergoing a tectonic shift. That’s why I launched the Big Tent Ideas Festival, aiming to tackle the most difficult policy challenges we face. The Festival has now run for two years. This year we hosted our first-ever Leaders’ Summit and brought nearly 2,000 people together for the main Festival across fifty events and eight different tents, discussing ideas to reform our politics, our economy and our society.

The Big Tent Ideas Festival is part of the Capital Ideas Foundation, founded by a group of entrepreneurs to campaign for renewal in the radical centre-ground. Over the next year, we will be setting off round the country as the forum for the best new ideas in public policy. Click below and join us.

Read more:

Big Tent Ideas website


We are in the middle of a Brexit civil war. What is clear is that the existing options will not unite our country.

Chequers has been dismissed by Brussels and is roundly rejected by the ERG. The Canada option was also not designed for the circumstances we currently face. We are a European nation already heavily reliant on the single market - wanting ideally to retain access to the single market without being in the 'political' union.

That’s why I believe ongoing membership of the European Free Trade Association is now the obvious route. It would give us off-the-shelf access to the single market, allow us to take back control of our fishing and farming industries, control free movement and let us negotiate our own trade deals.

Unless we stand up and fight for a sensible moderate Brexit, we risk enduring a #HardBrexit. There is an alternative that we can embrace now. It is time to embrace EFTA.


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