A roundup of the biggest stories from UK pharma, including the latest agreement between the British government and industry on a renewed drug pricing clawback scheme; GSK’s search for deals in China; the London-based CRO hVIVO’s new USD 21 million contract, and the latest biotech arising from Cambridge startup incubator Flagship.


UK drugmakers, government agree renewed revenue clawback scheme (Reuters)

Britain’s pharmaceutical industry and the government have agreed terms to renew a medicines access scheme that requires the companies to pay back part of their drug revenue generated from the national health service, they said on Monday.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said in a joint statement that the scheme agreed with the government and National Health Service (NHS) England, will run for five years until end-2028.


GSK’s cancer drug combination meets primary goal in late-stage trial (Reuters)

GSK said on Monday that a combination of its cancer drugs Zejula and Jemperli, when as used as a maintenance therapy following Jemperli plus chemotherapy, met the main goal of a late-stage trial to treat a certain type of endometrial cancer.

The results from the trial showed that Jemperli plus chemotherapy followed by Jemperli and Zejula improved progression-free survival, compared to chemotherapy alone in both the overall patient population and in a subpopulation of patients with certain types of tumours.


UK-based clinical trials increase by 4.3% in slow turnaround, ABPI finds (Clinical Trials Arena)

Areport published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has found a slight rebound for UK-based clinical trials with a 4.3% increase over the past year.

The report, titled ‘Getting back on track: Restoring the UK’s global position in industry clinical trials’, found that the number of clinical trials initiated in the UK saw a slight uptick over figures from 2021 but also that the rate is not rising fast enough to keep up with other countries.


‘Gamechanging’ drug to prevent hot flushes wins approval in UK (The Guardian)

A “gamechanging” drug that prevents hot flushes and could benefit hundreds of thousands of women has been approved for use in the UK.

The green light for Veoza, also known as fezolinetant, comes after the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, authorised it for use in America in May.


GSK on hunt for drug deals in China (Financial Times)

GSK is on the hunt for deals in China after the UK drugmaker rebuilt a “very strong” relationship with the government and local companies since a corruption scandal a decade ago.

Chief commercial officer Luke Miels told the Financial Times that the company was working on further deals with Chinese companies after it signed a licensing agreement in October worth up to $1.5bn for a cancer drug developed by Hansoh Pharma.


British CRO hVIVO reels in £16.8M clinical trial deal for RSV drug (Fierce Biotech)

London-based CRO hVIVO has landed a £16.8 million ($21 million) contract from an unnamed drugmaker to conduct a phase 2 trial of its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) antiviral drug candidate.

The company, which hVIVO has only described as a “top five global pharmaceutical” organization, will use hVIVO’s human challenge study model. Additionally, the contract will see the expedited manufacture of the RSV challenge agent, as well as a confirmatory challenge cohort and a multiple cohort challenge trial, the company said in a Dec. 13 release.


Flagship launches first UK biotech Quotient with genome sequencing platform (Fierce Biotech)

New Flagship Pioneering biotech Quotient Therapeutics has lots to be thankful for this year, namely $50 million in cash, a new U.K. outpost to work from and a formal unveiling as the holiday season approaches.

The Cambridge startup incubator took the lid off its latest company Tuesday, possibly the last Flagship launch of 2023. Quotient’s focus is on identifying potentially disease-causing genetic discrepancies that crop up in a single person’s body. Co-founder and President Jake Rubens, Ph.D., said that instead of comparing genomes across patients, the biotech aims to compare genomes with cells of a single patient.


Pharma group blasts UK’s drug rebate scheme shortly after lauding ‘landmark’ spending deal (Fierce Pharma)

Despite what was presented as a “landmark” deal between the pharmaceutical companies and the government, the U.K.’s pharma association has not stopped pressuring the government for more industry-friendly spending policies.

Under new terms published by the U.K. government, branded drug companies that opt into a statutory scheme designed to control drug costs will pay rebates equal to 21.9% of sales in 2024, 24% in 2025 and 26.8% in 2026. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) argues the rebates are “at levels which have damaged the U.K.’s international standing with global life science companies.”


Pfizer’s cost-cutting campaign hits Sandwich site in UK, where 500 workers will lose jobs (Fierce Pharma)

Earlier this month, Pfizer’s $3.5 billion cost-cutting campaign crossed overseas to Ireland. Now, just a week later, Pfizer is announcing hundreds more job cuts in the U.K.

Pfizer plans to cut approximately 500 roles and ax its Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule (PSSM) capabilities at its site in Sandwich in Kent in the U.K.


In a world first, Vertex, CRISPR win UK approval for CRISPR-edited therapy to treat sickle cell disease, beta-thalassemia (Endpoints)

Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics have won the first-ever approval for a therapy created with CRISPR gene editing, as the UK drug regulator MHRA greenlights their treatment for two blood disorders. The therapy previously known as exa-cel will now be branded Casgevy. It is authorized to treat sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia.