Maria Eagle MP Calls on Ministers to Support Investment in Seqirus
Much like the Prime Minister, I have always taken a very close interest in the bio-pharma industry based in my constituency, with its vitally important work and skilled employment. It has certainly faced its ups and downs, with for example the loss of Glaxo in the early 2000s and the evolving identity of what was originally Evans Medical when I was first elected in 1997, now Seqirus.
In July 2015, bioCSL and the influenza vaccines of Novartis joined forces to create Seqirus, making it the second largest influenza vaccine company in the world, a market worth some £2.54bn a year wordlwide. Seqirus Liverpool is a centre of excellence for egg-based influenza vaccine manufacturing, securing £334million of sales in 2013 as Novartis. It is one of the biggest biotechnology sites in Europe and the only injectable influenza vaccine manufacturer in the UK. Nearby AstraZeneca makes another flu vaccine, which has a nasal applicator for children. So Speke makes an almost unique global contribution to tackling flu.
Seqirus parent bioCSL is in the process of deciding where to locate ‘fill and finish’ capacity for its products manufactured in Europe and their decision is imminent. The business case shows Liverpool to be the best option and the alternative site is in Germany. Securing this capital investment for Speke would really help consolidate the future of the plant, and I have been engaged in lobbying government ministers to secure support to help make this happen. This is a chance for the Government to back bringing manufacturing and jobs to Liverpool. They need to take it!
However, last month I became concerned that the prospect of ‘Brexit’ and the big reorganisation Prime Minister Theresa May made to government departments may have disrupted our path to getting this investment. I therefore wrote to the government calling on ministers to urgently determine what help can be given to support capital investment by Seqirus in Speke.
I have received a response from Greg Hands MP, the new Minister of State for Trade and Investment, assuring me that the process of ‘Brexit’ is “handled to the maximum benefit of the UK Life Sciences sector” and that his department is “fully engaged” with Seqirus and “fully committed to supporting them as much as possible” to help them decide on an investment in Liverpool. He concludes, “Senior official engagement, as it has done previously, will continue to show that the Government is supportive of Seqirus and greatly values a stable manufacturing and supply chain for vaccines in the UK”.
I hope that does the trick.