The Government will review the clinical trial landscape in a bid to reverse what the ABPI has called a “worrying decline” in drug research in the UK.
Details of the review were announced last week with the Government also confirming Conservative member Lord James O’Shaughnessy – founder and senior partner at medical consulting group Newmarket Strategy - will lead the project.
George Freeman, Minister for State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “Commercial clinical trials are absolutely vital to both our UK life sciences sector and widening NHS patient access to innovative medicines all across the UK.”
Lord O’Shaughnessy is expected to publish his advice this spring along with recommendations of priority actions needed to boost the research sector in 2023, as well as setting out longer-term ambitions for UK clinical trials.
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) director of Research Policy, Jennifer Harris welcomed the news.
“Addressing the worrying decline of industry-sponsored clinical research in the NHS is critical if we are to deliver the UK’s ambitions for the life sciences sector and to support NHS recovery.
“The appointment of Lord O’Shaughnessy to carry out this review is an important recognition that we need to act decisively to reverse this negative trend.”
UK trials slump
UK clinical research activity is on a downward trajectory. According to ABPI analysis published in October the number of industry-led trials initiated in the UK per year fell by 41% between 2017 and 2021.
As a destination for Phase III studies the UK dropped from being the fourth most active country globally in 2017 to 10th in 2021 with EU member states like Italy and France as well as Japan and Canada overtaking it.
The research also revealed there has been a 44% drop in the number of participants recruited for commercial clinical trials in the UK in last five years.
The authors attributed the decline to a range of factors, including longer trial set up and recruitment timelines than competitor countries as well as disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.