Collaboration between industry, the health service and government on the Life Sciences Vision can help deliver the levelling up agenda
Chris Green MP, Vice-Chair of the Life Sciences APPG, and Nicole Farmer, General Manager, UK&Ire at Sanofi assess the impact of the Government's Life Sciences Vision and how we can unlock the benefits for patients and the wider economy, and improve diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions.
How the Life Sciences Vision can help deliver the levelling up agenda
The COVID pandemic has recently demonstrated the enormous potential of collaboration between government, the health service and industry to deliver life-changing outcomes for patients. I believe it’s essential that we learn from that experience in delivering for patients, the health service and the wider community.
I was encouraged to see the Government’s Life Sciences Vision, published last year, which looks to build on this potential, to improve outcomes for patients and increase the attractiveness of the UK as an investment destination. With investment, the life sciences sector can be part of delivering the Government’s levelling up vision by providing high quality jobs across the country.
I welcome the aim of the Life Sciences Vision to improve diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions, through collaboration with industry, while bolstering the UK’s position as a world leader for medical research. Delivering the Respiratory Mission of the Life Sciences Vision would be an important step in delivering better outcomes for patients, and potentially help take the strain off the NHS by reducing admissions.
As it stands, the UK has significantly poorer asthma outcomes than many other European countries, and tackling this disparity is rightly a priority. I believe that doing so requires collaboration between Government, the NHS and the life sciences sector.
In the spirit of fostering collaboration between industry and the health service to benefit patients, I chaired a policy roundtable with Sanofi earlier this year, discussing how to improve asthma outcomes for patients. Stakeholders at the roundtable reflected on the opportunities for increasing collaboration between industry and other partners, to deliver benefits for both patients and the wider life sciences sector.
Stakeholders at the roundtable agreed that making the UK a world-leader in respiratory research was a priority. One key area for improved collaboration was joining up respiratory data across the system. By integrating patient records, we could create a world-leading data repository, that would enable the NHS to identify patients who need specialist treatment. This data could be anonymised and used for research on an unprecedented scale.
Unlocking the UK’s potential as a leading force in clinical research would help attract investment into the UK life sciences sector. Growing life sciences research and investment in the UK would enable the Government to deliver on its levelling-up agenda. For example, increased investment in the Northern Sciences Supercluster would help deliver high-quality, high-wage jobs across the country.
We need Government, the NHS and industry to continue collaborating to drive forwards the life sciences vision and unlock the benefits for patients and the wider economy. By working together, we can unlock the potential of data to improve patient outcomes, and drive investment in the life sciences sector and maximise the UK’s competitive advantage in clinical research.
How industry is supporting the Life Sciences Vision mission to level up asthma care
Last year the Life Sciences Vision set out the Government’s vision for how life sciences would develop to help the NHS and patients. Sanofi welcomes the inclusion of improving respiratory care as one of the core missions of the LSV as the UK has some of the worst asthma outcomes in Europe. We are determined to play a key role in this mission to achieve better outcomes for people living with respiratory disease.
Earlier this year Sanofi convened a stakeholder roundtable with policymakers, clinicians, and patients to explore the barriers and solutions to improving outcomes for patients. As a result, we believe that to deliver on the respiratory mission of the Life Sciences Vision, three main developments are required.
Firstly, we need to address health inequalities in asthma treatments and asthma outcomes. There are currently unacceptable levels of variation in asthma treatment and outcomes in the UK based on gender, race and geography. As part of the Government’s focus on tackling health disparities, a review should be undertaken to examine the causes of variation in asthma outcomes and identify policy solutions which will level up asthma care. Regional variation in access to severe asthma care should be addressed by using remote consultations and remote monitoring to ensure patients can access the care they need.
Secondly, we need to end our dependence on oral corticosteroids (OCS) for maintenance in asthma. We must ensure that patients are flagged for treatment review and that all treatment options are considered before OCS is used as a maintenance treatment. OCS are an effective treatment for asthma, but they can also cause life-changing side-effects such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. At a time where alternative treatment options exist, we need to ensure that long term OCS use is not a default for patients and becomes just one of a range of treatments used.
Thirdly, we need to improve the data infrastructure available to both clinicians and clinical researchers. Putting in place a practical infrastructure for tracking patient outcomes and fostering best practice has the potential to improve patient outcomes and attract investment and talent to the UK life sciences sector. We believe a respiratory data hub would be an important bridge between driving up the standards in clinical care, and increasing the attractiveness of the UK as a research destination; delivering wins for both patients and for the life sciences sector.
At Sanofi, we recognise the role industry must play in tackling long-standing issues around respiratory care. We firmly believe that these partnerships should continue, building on the vital work already done combatting COVID-19, extending them across the spectrum of respiratory conditions.
The Life Sciences Vision demonstrates that the Government recognises the need for collaboration in improving respiratory care. We believe these are the first important steps towards levelling-up the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions in the UK.
 ALUK. Women almost twice as likely to die from asthma than men, 2022. Available at: https://www.asthmaandlung.org.uk/women-almost-twice-as-likely-to-die-from-asthma-than-men/
 Busby J et al. UK Severe Asthma Registry. Ethnic Differences in Severe Asthma Clinical Care and Outcomes: An Analysis of United Kingdom Primary and Specialist Care. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2022 Feb;10(2):495-505.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2021.09.034.
 Gupta, R. P., Mukherjee, M., Sheikh, A., & Strachan, D. P. (2018). Persistent variations in national asthma mortality, hospital admissions and prevalence by socioeconomic status and region in England. Thorax, 73(8), 706–712. https://doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2017-210714
 Sullivan PW, et al. Oral corticosteroid exposure and adverse effects in asthmatic patients. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2017;141(1):110–6.e7.
MAT-XU-2203012 (August 2022)
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.