Sunak’s bitter poison pill

Life Sciences slumps in the UK, drops below Germany & France

For the UK Pharmaceuticals industry, the headwinds are real. The post pandemic hangover, at first caused by clinical trials being delayed on approval, so that COVID-19 related drugs could be prioritised meant that as the pandemic subsided, the pipeline of other drugs going to clinical trials had slowed to a trickle. The MHRA was supposedly tasked with creating a fast track regime to overcome this, equally even now, the EMA is approving drugs faster. Hence for pharmaceuticals companies looking at where they should organise trials, the UK is as a result, less attractive. This has been compounded with the lack of liquidity on AIM, which is leading to certain companies looking to de-list. In April alone, two companies announced plans to delist – Redx Pharma and e-Therapeutics both moving ahead with this.

The challenge for British policy makers is that even if capital markets improve, and the MHRA accelerates its approvals process, the sector still remains under a cloud, be that from sitting outside the EU customs union, or no longer having access to talent in the way it did. With the recent changes to minimum salaries for work visas, along with restrictions on people being able to bring families, the challenge is that it is becoming increasingly hard to attract people to work in the UK. This is all leaving a long shadow of uncertainty over the sector.

With that, given that Sunak was a proponent of Brexit, this is his bitter pill to swallow. The hard truth is that in 2016, the UK was generating more jobs in Life Sciences than Germany and France combined. Compare that to 2024, and both countries have overtaken the UK in terms of recruitment activity. The Life Sciences industry is of massive strategic importance, given how it generates intellectual property and contributes to the balance of trade. Equally nothing in the current Conservative party policy framework going into this election, has acknowledged the issues facing the industry or what is needed next. Does Kier Starmar have a plan to get Life Sciences motoring again? Time will tell.


The data referenced above has been sourced from Vacancy Analytics, a cutting-edge Business Intelligence tool that tracks recruitment industry trends and identifies emerging hotspots. With 17 years of experience, we have a deep understanding of market activities in the UK and globally.

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