The Forum on the Future of Medicines event at NIBRT

The Forum on the Future of Medicines event at the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) held in November explored the challenges and opportunities that face the biopharmaceutical industry across the lifecycle of a medicine.

This event was jointly organised by NIBRT and two national biopharmaceutical industry representative organisations, namely the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and BioPharmaChem Ireland (BPCI), with thought leadership also provided from PwC Ireland and supported by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. It was attended by an audience of senior stakeholders from industry, key Government departments, agencies along with clinical and advocacy communities.

The emergence of new advanced therapeutics was a key and recurring topic at the forum, with insights including the impact they are having on the treatment of rare diseases and how industry is evolving and adapting to optimise the production and manufacture of these evolving therapies.

Professor David Keegan, Consultant Mater Hospital, Dublin and Specialist in Ophthalmology, provided clinical context and spoke about 7,000 rare diseases that affect an estimated 300 million people worldwide. There are currently only 5% of these rare diseases that have an intervention, but cell and gene therapies are providing ground-breaking advancements in the treatments of some rare conditions that have been historically difficult to treat. Professor Keegan provided information on some of the new treatments in eye care that are already having life changing results for patients in Ireland and abroad and the promise of many more effective treatments in the near future.

NIBRT’S John Milne’s presentation on ‘The Evolving Skillset for Biopharmaceutical Manufacture’ addressed the challenges of bringing cell and gene products to market and the skills framework required to support this area of biopharma manufacturing. To help address some of these skills challenges NIBRT is currently building 1,800 m2 of new space, including five research laboratories and state of the art training suites, into the existing NIBRT facility that will be dedicated to support research and training in advanced therapeutics.

Minister Dara Calleary opened the session and during his address highlighted the government’s commitment to openness, collaboration and partnership to address challenges and seize opportunities for medical innovation. PwC, Eli Lilly, Innopharma, Charles River Associates and BPCI all also provided featured insights with an excellent audience interactive discussion moderated at the end of the presentations by Jean Delaney, Partner at PwC.

A key discussion highlight in the Forum was the importance for continuing collaboration and communication between government, industry and patient groups to improve timely access to these innovative treatments and medicines.