Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

UK Planning System Deterring Pharmaceutical Investments, Eli Lilly CEO Says

Dave Ricks, the chief executive of Eli Lilly, the world’s most valuable pharmaceutical company, has expressed concerns about the UK’s planning system, stating that it discourages companies from investing in the country. In an interview with the BBC, Ricks revealed that while he had considered establishing a factory in the UK over the past decade, he ultimately chose another location due to the UK’s cumbersome planning processes.

Ricks highlighted that the current planning procedures in the UK serve as a significant barrier to the swift construction of factories, contrasting sharply with the more efficient systems in the US and Ireland. He noted that in those countries, land is often pre-reserved, and efforts are made to streamline bureaucratic hurdles, facilitating faster project completion.

Competitive Edge in Obesity Medication

Eli Lilly, along with Danish competitor Novo Nordisk, has gained a significant lead in the pharmaceutical industry concerning obesity medication. The demand for Eli Lilly’s drugs, including Zepbound and Mounjaro, has outpaced the company’s ability to construct manufacturing facilities swiftly enough to meet it.

The company currently operates in the US, Ireland, and several European Union countries, including Italy, France, and Germany. Ricks emphasized the importance of reducing the time required to establish a pharmaceutical plant from five years to two, deeming such efficiency highly attractive for investment decisions.

The UK’s Challenges and Potential

While Ricks acknowledged his fondness for the UK, he pointed out that its relatively smaller market size necessitates additional incentives to attract investment, such as a skilled workforce, efficient asset delivery, and robust economic incentives. He urged the UK to enhance its competitiveness to attract more investments, suggesting that the goal is achievable with the right measures.

Both major UK political parties have pledged to address planning laws. The Conservative Party has proposed simplifying the planning system, while the Labour Party has committed to reforming it if they win the forthcoming general election. A Labour spokesperson criticized the Conservative government’s handling of the life sciences sector, promising a new industrial strategy with life sciences at its core.

Political Reactions and Future Prospects

A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats also criticized the Conservative government’s approach, calling for a stable business environment and a reformed business rates system to boost the manufacturing industry.

Despite the current challenges, Ricks indicated that the UK remains a potential location for future Eli Lilly manufacturing sites. He called on the next government to consider how it could enhance the country’s attractiveness for investment, emphasizing the need to simplify and expedite the decision-making process for companies.

As the UK prepares for the upcoming general election, the issue of planning laws and their impact on economic growth and investment is likely to remain a key topic of discussion.

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