Future watch

Cell & Gene Collective launched to advocate for adoption of next generation medicine in the UK

May 25, 2021

The Cell & Gene Collective has been launched by leading companies Astellas, bluebird bio, Bristol Myers Squibb, Kite (a Gilead company) and Novartis, with the aim of raising awareness of the promise and challenges of the next generation of medicines – cell and gene therapies.

To date, the UK has been a global leader in introducing cell and gene therapies that can potentially transform the lives of patients with debilitating diseases. The Collective will lead a conversation on maintaining this early progress and realising the potential of future therapies as the technology progresses – including tackling barriers to access and translating positive public attitudes towards the science into public support for its use in treatments in the NHS.

Cell and gene therapies face challenges when being introduced in the UK because they go through the same value assessment processes as less complex medicines, and the infrastructure needed to administer them to the right patients isn’t widely available.

Key initiatives undertaken to date include:

  • A comprehensive public survey of more than 1,500 people which showed that awareness of cell and gene therapies remains low. However, 54% of people in the UK do believe it is a good thing and fewer than one in ten people think this type of treatment is bad.
  • The first virtual Patient Advocacy Summit, where eleven leading patient groups discussed how they and industry can tackle some of the challenges in cell and gene therapy together. This is the first time patient groups have been brought together in the UK to share their experience with these therapies across disease areas. Speakers included Findacure, Action Duchenne and The Haemophilia Society.

Bob Roosjen, Interim General Manager at Gilead UK & Ireland, which is the company Chairing the Collective, commented:

“We’re pleased to be launching the Cell & Gene Collective alongside Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb, Astellas and bluebird bio. Together we’re committed to ensuring patients in the UK who can benefit from transformational cell and gene treatments do so, and that people have a clear understanding of how these therapies work. Cell and gene therapies aim to transform patients’ lives, now let’s work together to get the NHS ready for the future.”

Nicola Redfern, General Manager at bluebird bio – the company Vice Chairing the Collective, said:

“Cell and gene therapies are here now which is really exciting, with treatments starting to enter routine clinical practice. Others however face delays and hurdles and we need greater focus and collaboration across multiple stakeholders to ensure this becomes a reality we can all see the benefits of in the UK. bluebird bio appreciates being a part of this Collective, which will help towards ensuring that patients who need these medicines can benefit from them.”

Jo Pisani, Trustee of Findacure and Chair of the Collective’s Patient Advocacy Summit, said:

“Now that we are seeing cell and gene therapies enter the NHS and become a reality for patients in the UK, there is no denying that the patient voice should be at the heart of the conversation around these therapies. The Patient Advocacy Summit provided a fantastic forum for patient groups to share their experiences and insights on the challenges different patients might face in accessing these new treatments, and, working together, we’re now ready to use this pivotal moment to make sure the next wave of these medicines can be accessed smoothly and without delay.”

News & Analysis

by Editor