Head of life sciences

My legal career was inspired by the philosophical debate as to whether society shapes the individual, or the individual shapes society. Having studied for a BA (Hons) degree in society, economy and social policy at the University of Exeter, I wanted to explore how the legal landscape was developed and how it governs and shapes the way in which we live as individuals. I also wanted to use this knowledge to support individuals in navigating and using those rules to gain access to a better life.

After university, I temped as a legal co-ordinator for Bond Pearce within their insurance litigation department. I applied for training contracts across the UK. After almost two years, I was finally offered a training contract at Kidd Rapinet. I worked in their London and Maidenhead offices, specialising in property, private client, litigation and commercial, before qualifying in 2000.

I spent four years practising as a corporate commercial solicitor within private practice. I enjoyed supporting clients, but wanted to become part of the journey rather than being an outsider, only looking into the business as and when instructed. This drew me towards the in-house sector.

In my search to find an in-house legal role, I was presented with a job offer from pharmaceutical company Novartis. My interest in life sciences was sparked when researching the business of Novartis. I was fascinated by the regulatory environment, which ensures patient safety is paramount.

Since then, I have been fortunate to work in a number of companies within the life science setting. These include big pharmaceutical companies (Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Bristol Myers Squibb and MSD), a bio-tech company (Illumina), and a small start-up cannabinoid company. I spend time getting to understand the business and personalities of key stakeholders, and how to communicate with them.

My association with the law practice of 360 Law Group enables me to expand my work as a remote-based in-house legal service, or as an extension to an in-house legal team. I give clients commercial-based advice that helps them to achieve their objectives but with the flexibility to call on support when needed.

'With Covid, the way we work has changed and so too must the focus on how patients are treated'

There have been many memorable career highlights. At Novo Nordisk, I created an in-house legal function for the UK and Irish business. At Illumina, I led the legal negotiations with the UK government to provide whole genome sequencing technology and expertise. At BMS, we worked for over two years to find a pricing solution which met the NICE QALY assessment (a quality adjusted life years metric which is used to measure health benefits generated by a particular treatment) for an immuno-oncology treatment for lung cancer.

Life sciences is an exciting and dynamic area with many significant developments that have affected my work. The unlocking of the genome, with discoveries in mapping our genes to develop effective therapies, is changing the way in which diseases are treated. 

Consequently, a large proportion of my time is spent helping companies develop innovative promotional campaigns and disease awareness strategies. I also help businesses to develop pricing and outcomes-based offerings which are compliant with the complex legal and regulatory landscape. 

The challenges for 2021 are considerable. With Covid, the way we work and receive health care support has changed and so too must the focus on how patients are treated. Along with addressing physical conditions, the life science world must factor in the quality of life and the mental wellbeing of the patient as it develops treatment options.

We are also embarking on a new political and socio-economic environment as Brexit’s knock-on ramifications for the pharmaceutical supply chain unfold. As a life sciences industry legal specialist, I believe there will be an increased need for support from legal experts within the industry. Those with knowledge of the Brexit deal can help businesses navigate cross-border transactions as the new economic and political environment unfolds, and the European Court of Justice no longer has automatic sovereignty over transactions between the UK and the EEA. Businesses also need to continue to innovate therapies in a way which takes into account added value services, which will differentiate them from competitors, meet patient demands for personal medicine initiatives, and improve quality of life.