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Industry urges government to support Covid-hit charity research


Tens of companies call on prime minister to back proposal for Life Sciences Partnership Fund

A group of influential pharmaceutical and health technology companies are calling on the government to provide urgent financial support for medical research charities, which are facing an unprecedented shortfall in income as a result of coronavirus.

In a letter addressed to prime minister Boris Johnson dated 1 September, more than 30 companies, including AstraZeneca, Roche, Eli Lilly and Pfizer, highlight the “immediate and devastating” impact of Covid-19 on the sector, with a projected £310 million shortfall in the 2020-21 financial year.

The companies urge the government to back the Association of Medical Research Charity’s proposal for a Life Sciences Partnership Fund, a co-investment scheme that would provide a level of matched funding for future charity research over the next three years to make up for the expected shortfall.

“We recognise the government’s clear drive to put R&D at the heart of the UK’s economic and social recovery but we have yet to see clarity in this around what this means for the future of charity funded research,” the companies said.

“By preserving charity-funded research in the short-term, [the] government can help create high-quality research, innovation infrastructure and skills benefitting the UK economy in the longer term.”

In a statement published alongside the letter, Aisling Burnand, CEO of the Association of Medical Research Charities said: “Charity research provides the foundations for commercial research. You cannot support the latter without the former.

“By investing in charity-funded research, government can help medical research charities deliver a better future for patients across the UK, protect the UK’s research skills and capabilities and contribute to economic growth.”