The annual economic benefit of clinical research in the UK in 2018-19 was £2.17 billion

The UK leads the rest of Europe for early-stage clinical research into new medicines and vaccines, according to a new report from the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).

The Clinical trials annual report, published today, gives a definitive view of the country’s domestic research environment and how it compares internationally.

The report finds cancer research as the country’s strongest area with more than 600 various commercial trials are taking place in the NHS.

“These new figures are good news for the UK, showing just how strong we are as a nation at research and development which leads to new medicines and vaccines, but there’s no room for complacency,” said Dr Sheuli Porkees, Executive Director of Research, Medical and Innovation at the ABPI.

However, in the next stages of the researches such as phase III, UK drops into third place in the continent behind Germany and Spain and fifth globally behind the US and Canada. The US tops all three lists of phase I, II and III trials.

The annual economic benefit of clinical research in the UK in 2018-19 was £2.17 billion, supporting 47,000 jobs and bringing £28.6 million in savings and £335 million income to the NHS. Around 870,250 people took part in commercial and non-commercial research across England during the same period.

As the UK has benefitted from Europe-wide research projects, the report warned that the uncertainty about the UK-EU relationship is undermining the attractiveness of the UK as a destination for clinical research.

Over the past decade, 28 per cent of all EU clinical trial applications came from the UK, with an average of 632 trials starting every year since 2012.

In 2017, the country ranked first in Europe and third globally for the number of early clinical trials and ranked second in the world and first in Europe for Phase II clinical trials.

Along with cancer research, the UK is performing strongly in immune, nervous and cardio-metabolic diseases clinical research.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, President-Elect of the British Pharmacology Society, said: “The ABPI report emphasises that continued success is heavily dependent on investing in key skills such as clinical pharmacology; there are long-standing skills gaps that are widely recognised – for example by ABPI skills surveys and the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy – and need urgent action.”

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