Fight for Sight welcomes the Life Sciences Strategy
Last week saw the release of the independent Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and the reaction has been almost universally positive. Fight for Sight welcomes the report and its proposals. As negotiations to exit the European Union progress, it is vital that life sciences are set on the best possible footing so that the research community in the UK continues to thrive and be a global leader. It is clear that the strategy headed up by Sir John Bell has this aim in mind.
We were especially pleased to see the strategy highlight the valuable contribution charities make to medical research in the UK. However, to ensure that charities like Fight for Sight can continue to fund innovative research and maximise their impact, support mechanisms like the Charity Research Support Fund need to be retained and enhanced. We would urge the Government to ensure that this is part of the sector deal that will follow.
Other exciting developments within the strategy include the creation of the Health Advanced Research programme (HARP) to fund “moonshot” projects of high-risk research bringing together industry, charities and government partners to create new industries at the cutting edge. One potential focus highlighted within the HARP proposal, “healthy ageing”, is especially welcomed as many eye conditions are age-related. At Fight for Sight we know that impact is maximised when charities work together with government and the private sector.
We are also excited to see the strategy call for the creation of national data registries based on therapeutic-specific areas aligned to a relevant charity, and the adoption of the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) as the means of speeding up access for innovative treatments to patients on the NHS. The use of data drives improvements and as a nation we lag behind our peers in patient access to drugs and treatments. The Government has promised its response to the AAR this autumn.
Ultimately however, this is an industry led document and how the government responds as well as the money attached to the sector deal is paramount to its success. Stakeholders will need a collaborative approach to working with government to help shape this and ensure the best possible environment for our research and the people that benefit from it. Fight for Sight will be working with other leading research charities to ensure we get a new deal for eye research that is enhanced by recognition and partnership with government, industry and most importantly those at risk or living with sight loss.