The disease area which continues to receive the largest clinical research investment globally is oncology, with other therapy areas such as anti-diabetics, immunosuppressants and vaccines receiving significant R&D investment , with innovations in areas such as cell and gene therapies and genomics offering new ways to treat a range of diseases.
With almost 50% of global R&D investment allocated to clinical trials (Phases I–III) (10), industry invests a substantial amount in clinical research, supporting the development of the medicines and vaccines of the future.
Last year the ABPI’s Clinical Trials Report (11) provided a benchmark for clinical research in the UK, with retrospective data articulating the environment in 2017 – a time of uncertainty attributed to the decision by the UK to leave the European Union.
One year on, this report reviews the clinical research activity in the UK in 2018, during which the Withdrawal Agreement was published and endorsed by the EU, setting the UK on a track towards future relationship negotiations.
In 2020, the UK has left the EU and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought mass disruption to global R&D and healthcare systems. As the UK looks ahead, we must reflect on lessons learnt from COVID-19 and embed new ways of working across the clinical research environment, to lock in transformational changes that can benefit the NHS, patients and the public alike. The UK must also ensure that these changes enable future clinical trials to be conducted more efficiently in all disease areas, including COVID-19.
To date, the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, Sector Deals and Government’s commitment to increase R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP have provided a platform for partnership, allowing the sector to work together towards an improved clinical research environment, with many promising initiatives established. However, the step-change needed to transform the UK clinical research environment has yet to come to fruition.
This report presents recommendations that allow us to build on these foundations, to ensure the UK has a globally competitive clinical research environment to conduct commercial clinical research – one that industry can feel confident in and rely on.