I’m delighted that the ABPI is publishing its second annual report looking at the clinical trials environment in the UK.
Since our last report was published in 2019, clinical research has become a topic of public interest in a way we could never have predicted. As the global research community coalesces to find vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, the general public around the world are following every development. In the UK, this is happening against the backdrop of Government and industry preparing for the end of the transition period, where there remains considerable uncertainty.
The UK has responded at an unprecedented pace to get COVID-19 research up and running as quickly as possible, with the life sciences sector, Government and regulators working closely together. Globally, we have seen rapid funding, enhanced partnership opportunities and innovative approaches to designing, delivering and reporting on research, which have brought new opportunities to patients and improved our healthcare decision-making. These new approaches have also shone a light on the possibilities for change that lie ahead.
However, this impressive response has had an impact on research in other disease areas, which has declined over this period. As we seek to define how the UK returns to pre-COVID-19 levels of clinical research and how we can go on to enhance our environment, it is important to understand how the UK clinical research environment has performed. Our report tracks UK clinical research activity in 2018, compared with international competitors, highlighting areas of strength and areas for improvement.
The UK Government has demonstrated a commitment to enhancing the UK clinical research environment, with the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, Sector Deals and R&D Roadmap providing a platform to address issues that lie in the system. These initiatives and commitments are welcomed by the ABPI and industry. The life sciences sector must be central to the Government’s plans to become a science ‘superpower’ and transformational change in the UK’s clinical research environment can help achieve this goal.
Working in partnership with patients and the public, we can learn from our experiences during COVID-19 and position the UK as a leading global destination to conduct clinical research, building an innovative and competitive environment that has patients at the heart.
Dr Sheuli Porkess
Executive Director, Research, Medical and Innovation
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
Clinical trials are an essential part of the research and development (R&D) process, bringing benefits to patients, the NHS and the economy.
Clinical trials are an essential part of the research and development (R&D) process, ensuring safety and efficacy of potential new medicines and vaccines.
Research drives the development of new medicines. Increasingly the research process has become global, with alignment of standards and the emergence of different countries as places to carry out high quality research. The UK has been a significant leader in clinical research in terms of thought leadership as well as numbers of trials.
Oncology remains the UK’s strongest research area, with 226 trials initiated in the UK in 2018 (Figure 4).
The global R&D response to COVID-19 has been unprecedented in scale and speed, and in terms of collaboration, transparency and translation.
As the global research environment recovers from COVID-19 and the UK looks towards the end of the transition period, there is an urgent need to embed new ways of working in order to transform the UK clinical research environment.
The pharmaceutical industry operates globally; these companies will continue to place their investment where they feel confident that their research can be efficiently and successfully delivered.