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Policy and Public Affairs Update: 7th-11th August

BSI weekly Policy and Public Affairs update

August 7th– August 11th


The 20th of July marked the start of Summer Parliamentary Recess. Official business in both houses will resume on Tuesday, September 5th. For this reason, we have combined our weekly Policy and Public Affairs Updates from the past 4 weeks. We will continue with regular weekly updates on the 8th of September.


MHRA re-appoint Chair for further 3 years

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced the re-appointment of Professor Sir Michael Rawlins as its chair for a second 3 year term. His re-appointment comes at a particularly key time for the MHRA as the UK transitions out of the EU and its relationship with the presently London based European Medicines Agency (EMA) is negotiated.

Sir Michael Rawlins was first appointed chair of the Agency in 2014, following posts as chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) from 1999-2013 and as President of The Royal Society from 2012-2014. 


NIHR stats and NHS Research Activity League Table published

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has published annual statistics, which show that more than 665,000 participants took part in clinical research studies across 2016/17, a 10% jump on the previous year.

Also published is the 2016-17 NHS Research Activity League Table, showing what type of clinical research is happening, where and how many people are involved. According to the league table nearly two-thirds (65%) of trusts increased their research activity. For the sixth year running, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust topped the table in terms of studies.


Global hepatitis B vaccine shortage announced

Manufacturing and production issues have resulted in a global shortage of the hepatitis B vaccine.

Public Health England, the Department of Health and the manufacturers of the vaccine (GSK and Merck) have set in place a series of measures to ensure those at greatest risk of infection can still access the vaccine.

Hepatitis B is transmitted in blood and bodily fluids from infected individuals and though the risk of infection in the UK is currently very low, it is routinely offered to those at most immediate risk; babies born to infected mothers, sexual partners of infected individual, healthcare workers and others who inject drugs. At this time, the vaccine will remain available to those who have been directly exposed to the infection.


NEW hexavalent 6-in-1 vaccine to be made available to newborns

The new hexavalent 6-in-1 vaccine will replace the previous pentavalent  5-in-1 vaccine and will be offered to all babies born after the 1st of August 2017 as part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule.

The new vaccine will add protection against hepatitis B infection, in addition to continued protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib.

Introduction of the vaccine to the routine schedule aligns the UK with  the WHO’s global strategy towards elimination of viral hepatitis as a major public health threat by 2030.


NHS England announces 3 year PrEP implementation trial

At the beginning of August, NHS England announced the start of a 3 year PrEP implementation trial.

Beginning in September, PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis, will be offered by the NHS to an estimated 10,000 individuals, to provide HIV prevention to those at highest risk of infection.  Sexual health clinics across the country will identify eligible individuals who consent to the trial.

Results and evaluation from the 3 year trial will help to inform on future routine commissioning for the preventative drug.