No, Minister: Disgruntled Novartis threatens to steer R&D away from U.K.

Last year, Novartis spent $9.5 billion on R&D, grabbing boasting rights for the biggest research budget in the global pharma industry. And now the Swiss company ($NVS) is sending a pointed message to British officials that they had better sharpen up their innovation game if they expect the company to continue spending a big portion of that treasure chest in the U.K.

Jon Symonds, global finance director of Novartis, has organized a "crisis" meeting, bringing together scientists and British officials to review the country's "haphazard" approach to medical research. And if the country can't get it right, Symonds says that they'll focus on other countries that can.

"One of the characteristics of the UK is a very low up-take on innovation," Symonds told The Daily Telegraph. "Sitting in another part of the business allocating my resources, if we don't see the up-take in the UK resources will be allocated elsewhere."

Symonds went on to voice frustration with the NHS, which he says is slow to take up new drugs and accelerate clinical development. "It should be a seamless process," he said about drug development, "but instead it takes an enormous amount of time and energy, during which we lose money."

Science Minister David Willetts will be on hand for the discussion. Willets has been a big booster of the country's biotech community. Just weeks ago, a slate of new life science research initiatives has gained $300 million in financial support from a public/private partnership in the U.K. The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund is helping coordinate new collaborations on cancer drug research, rare diseases, and eye drugs as well as a sustainable chemistry program involving GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). And it's all part of a £1 billion ($1.6 billion) plan to reenergize the country's science industry.

- here's the story from The Daily Telegraph

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