New Medicines: A vital, but risky, business | British Pharmacological Society President’s Lecture

Thursday 13 November 2014

The Royal Society
6-9 Carlton House Terrace
London, SW1Y 5AG

Suitable for:
Ages 16+

Event description

Medicines change medicine. History shows us that the biggest improvements in healthcare are thanks to new medicines and vaccines: HIV infection changed rapidly from a death sentence to become a chronic but manageable disease for those able to access medicines; the development of increasingly effective chemotherapy means the outlook for many people diagnosed with cancer is dramatically different now from what it was even ten years ago; and the advent of new medicines is improving the care offered to people with dementia.

Behind these world-changing medicines are years of drug discovery conducted by the pharmaceutical industry, . Looking ahead, this vital business must continue if there are to be more medicines and vaccines for challenges such as antibiotic resistance or the Ebola virus outbreak.

But the risk associated with developing innovative medicines is high. Progress is uneven and the current rate of failure means that over £1 billion is spent for each new medicine that reaches patients. Is the pharmaceutical industry capable of sustaining innovation at a cost that Society is prepared to pay? Whose responsibility is it to support drug invention and what is the role of public funding, academia and biotech? And why are some disease areas, such as cancer, crowded with innovative new medicines while others, such as some areas of neuroscience and antibiotics, are virtually bereft of genuinely new medicines?

Join the British Pharmacological Society for its President’s Lecture, delivered by a well-known industry expert, and join in discussion of the prospects for real innovation at the cutting edge of drug discovery and development.

Tickets are £5 per person, including tea/coffee on arrival and a reception for attendees following the lecture.

Speaker profiles

Welcome address: Professor Humphrey Rang, President of the British Pharmacological Society (@BritPharmSoc;, which is the primary UK learned society concerned with research into drugs and the way they work. The British Pharmacological Society supports a range of science-related events for the public, including science festivals, careers fairs and lectures.

President’s Lecture by: Dr Patrick Vallance, President of Pharmaceutical R&D at GlaxoSmithKline (@GSK;, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Prior to joining GSK in 2006 Patrick led the Division of Medicine at University College London. He has led a well-documented change in GSK’s R&D model and continues to introduce new ways to further improve drug discovery and to enhance the chance of finding and developing truly important and novel medicines that society can afford.

Followed by a response from: Sir Michael Rawlins, President of the Royal Society of Medicine (@RoySocMed; Sir Michael was professor of clinical pharmacology at Newcastle University (1973–2006) where he conducted research into new and established medicines. He was also closely involved with the regulation of medicines as chair of the Committee on the Safety of Medicines (1992–1998); and then as founding chair of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (1999–2013).

Panel discussion chaired by: Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Brunel University London (@BrunelUni; Julia is the first woman to be appointed as Vice-Chancellor and President at Brunel. Before Brunel, she was Pro-Rector for Education and Academic Affairs Imperial College London. A specialist in Pharmacology, she is currently a Trustee of the Royal Institution and the Society of Biology, Chairman (designate) of SCORE, and a President Emeritus of the British Pharmacological Society.

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