UK Pharma & Biotech Roundup: AbbVie & Lilly Exit Voluntary Pricing; Moderna Joins ABPI; Biotech Funding Downturn; Gilead NICE Approval


A roundup of the latest UK healthcare, pharma and biotech news including AbbVie and Lilly’s departure from the country’s voluntary medicines pricing agreement, Moderna’s expanded footprint, UK biotech’s 2022 funding downturn and Gilead’s Yescarta approval from NICE.


Northern Ireland Medicines supply still ‘problematic and inefficient’ (BBC News)

According to the Healthcare Distribution Association, an organisation that represents medicines wholesalers, supplying Northern Ireland remains “challenging, problematic and inefficient” as issues remain despite the EU changing its laws to ease the flow of medicines from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.


AbbVie and Lilly leave UK drug pricing agreement (ABPI)

AbbVie and Eli Lilly and Company have sent a warning signal to the UK government by leaving the voluntary medicines pricing agreement in protest over increasingly punitive revenue clawbacks. The companies argue that it is no longer possible to justify the UK’s ‘voluntary scheme’ to global boardrooms and investors. Repayment rates in 2023 have surged to 26.5 percent of revenue.


Moderna joins the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)

Moderna has become the newest member of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the UK’s leading pharmaceutical industry organization, building on the wider long-term commitment by the American-based company to expand its footprint and investment in the UK. In addition to joining the industry body, Moderna is  reinforcing its presence in the UK with a new vaccine research, development and manufacturing facility.


UK biotech sees worst funding downturn since 2012 (Pharmaphorum)

The findings of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) and data and insights company Clarivate’s  annual UK Biotech Financing report for 2022 are not positive. While global macroeconomic uncertainty continues to impact financing, the pharma industry has focused on UK biotechs to strengthen product pipelines. But with difficult public markets and low investor appetite, new launches were almost unseen in 2022, with public markets contributing only GBP 575 million to the UK sector’s annual fundraising total.

In addition, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) raised just GBP 28 million – the worst annual number since 2012 – and, during the entirety of last year, UK biotech raised just GBP 1.8 billion,  down from GBP 4.5 billion in 2021.


NHS sets out two-year recovery plan for emergency care (Reuters)

England’s National Health Service (NHS) announced a two-year recovery plan to help restore emergency care and frontline services, currently struggling through one of their toughest winters. The state-funded NHS said it sought to reduce waiting times and improve patient experience under the plan, which includes 800 new ambulances and 5,000 new beds backed by a GBP 1 billion  fund. The circulation of COVID-19 and flu has increased in winter months when hospitals are already trying to deal with huge backlogs from the pandemic.


Gilead’s CAR-T Yescarta approved by NICE (Fierce Pharma)

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) released final draft guidance approving Gilead’s Yescarta for routine use through England’s National Health Service (NHS) in adults with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL) who’ve tried two or more cancer therapies.

The agency’s approval makes Yescarta the first personalized immunotherapy recommended for routine use in adults through England’s national health authority. Following NICE’s rejection of Yescarta in 2018, the agency reviewed new evidence to reach its amended conclusion.


Grey Wolf gets USD 49M for new immunotherapy target (Endpoints)

Oxford-based biotech company Grey Wolf Therapeutics has secured USD 49 million in Series B funding. The company plans to use the funds to bring its first asset -a new type of inhibitor that blocks enzymes called ERAP1 and ERAP2, or endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidases- into human trials. Pfizer Ventures and Earlybird Venture Capital co-led the round.

Grey Wolf’s immuno-oncology drugs aim to illuminate tumors so they can be attacked and also drive better T cell responses against the cancer — two key limitations with existing oncology medicines.

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