LONDON _ The U.K. government and pharmaceutical industryhave launched a joint campaign to persuade pharmaceutical andbiotechnology companies to invest here.

The campaign was initiated by Virginia Bottomley, secretary of statefor health, the government Cabinet minister responsible for healthpolicy in the U.K. and for managing the National Health Service.The industry side is lead by Sir Richard Sykes, chief executive ofGlaxo Holdings plc, of London.

Bottomley set up the Inward Investment Team, chaired by Sykes, inSeptember 1994. The team then produced a report, "Investmentopportunities in the U.K. for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceuticalcompanies."

Team members include Brian Richards, chairman of British Biotech,Oxford, and Trevor Jones, director general of the Association ofBritish Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) in London. Bottomley saidthat she will head a delegation to Japan in March, and hopes to visitthe U.S. later in the spring.

Strachan Heppell, deputy secretary at the department of health, saidthat the aim of the campaign is "to encourage investment in the U.K.,with particular emphasis on biotechnology companies in the U.S.and the pharmaceuticals companies in Japan." The U.K. already hashad more success than any other European country in attractingJapanese and American companies to locate their operations in thecountry.

According to the report, by the end of March 1993 some 43 percentof U.S. investment, and 41 percent of Japanese investment had cometo the U.K., with car makers and electronics companies leading theway. Germany was the second most attractive location for Americancompanies, with some 17 percent of the inward investment. Thesecond favorite location for Japanese companies was TheNetherlands, with nearly 25 percent of that country's directinvestment in Europe.

The report also points to a number of areas where the U.K. isattractive to biotech and pharmaceuticals companies. "One-third ofall European biotechnology companies are in the U.K." said thereport. The U.K. has "by far the largest" venture capital market inEurope, with about 130 funds providing start-up capital.

A major plank in the campaign is the establishment in London of theEuropean Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products(EMEA). This is to be what Jones of the ABPI describes as "a one-stop shop for new medicines in biotechnology." The EMEA willmanage the new system of medicines licensing in the EuropeanUnion (EU) that will be effective on Jan. 1. The report states that theEMEA "will enable a company to license a medicine throughoutEurope, making the licensing process quicker and more cost-effective."

The EMEA will allow a choice between two licensing procedures, acentralized procedure, where the agency will take applications forlicenses that will be valid throughout Europe; and a decentralizedprocedure that allows applicants to file in one country, with all othermembers of the EU recognizing this license and the EMEAarbitrating when disputes arise. The centralized procedure ismandatory for biotechnology medicines.

The EMEA could be a strong magnet to attract companies. AsHeppell puts it: "If you are going to do business in Europe, you havegot to use the EMEA. If you are going to use the EMEA you havegot to have some presence here."

Copies of the report, "Prescribe U.K.: The preferred location forpharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals," are available from DennisCopeman, department of health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall,London, SW1A 2NS, England. Telephone: 44 171 210 5744. Fax: 44171 210 5501. n

-- Michael Kenward Special To BioWorld Today

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.