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

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