Figures from the NIHR show that in
England, clinical research is worth
£2.7 billion a year
– including £1.5 billion from commercial sources
The UK’s success in early science has been built on attracting investment and research activity from global pharmaceutical companies to our world-famous universities and research centres. The industry runs thousands of trials around the world at any one time and invests significantly into UK R&D.
“At £4.3 billion a year,
the industry invests far in
excess of any other sector.”
This report looks at how the UK has built on its legacy of medical innovation to become one of the most competitive global hubs for clinical research and how we compare against Europe and the rest of the world.
The ABPI annually commissions data collection on the number of clinical trials initiated, by country, phase and disease area. Data is reported for the UK compared to global comparators, including a selection of EU and other countries, including the USA and Canada.
For the first time this analysis also includes data on China, Brazil, South Africa and Switzerland (from 2016), in order to better reflect the global nature of the clinical research landscape and give us a clearer view on where the UK stands internationally.
The data provides clinical trial activity in the period after the EU referendum and acts as a benchmark for the UK’s position in this globally competitive arena at that time.
Commercial clinical research trends, in the UK, have remained stable over the last few years. The UK leads Europe in early (Phase II/II) clinical research but falls behind other European countries in Phase III clinical trials.
Whilst European countries continue to invest heavily in science and healthcare, nations like China and Brazil are emerging as the new hubs of global medicines discovery.
If we are to continue attracting international pharmaceutical companies, we must maintain and strengthen the UK offer for clinical research.
The UK Government has already committed to increasing the share of GDP spent on R&D to 2.4% by 2027 (the average of OECD countries3) and to 3% by 2030.
The Government should also encourage investment in late phase clinical trials – those where the science is closer to finding new medicines for NHS patients – the area where the UK does the least well and where we start to drop behind other nations.
The NHS has massive potential as a driver for global investment, with our health service offering a great opportunity to trial new medicines and vaccines, with its wealth of expertise and access to health data.
To keep pace with global competitors and remain at the cutting edge of innovative drug development, the UK must embrace new technology and build a workforce that is highly skilled and meets the needs of new R&D approaches.
How the UK continues to perform in this evolving landscape, will be a clear guide as to the impact of Brexit on UK medicines research and development and the effectiveness of policies to support clinical research.