UK Government focus on strengthening clinical research amidst unique challenges of Brexit

The Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) convenes discussion series that seeks to advance an industry with important health and economic impacts

November 28, 2018 – (Washington, DC) – After three successful events with UK government officials, ACRO concludes its 2018 Clinical Research Roundtable series having brought attention to the vital role of clinical research. To highlight the impact of the industry and the need for continued success of clinical research in the UK, ACRO collaborated with its member companies to conduct a series of discussions with government officials. The events culminated with specific policy recommendations to improve competitiveness amidst the challenges of withdrawing from the European Union.

At the first event, representatives from the UK’s major clinical research organizations (CROs) met with the Rt Hon Hilary Benn (Labour – Leeds Central), Chair of the Exiting the European Union select committee, to discuss the implications of separating from the European Union. Hosted by ACRO member Covance, the meeting included a tour of research facilities that are a source of hundreds of highly skilled jobs.

Focused on strengthening UK leadership in clinical research and public-private partnerships, the second Roundtable was hosted by Syneos Health at their new headquarters in Farnborough. ACRO members were joined by senior officials from the National Institute for Health Research and the Department of International Trade.

The third Clinical Research Roundtable event, a discussion with Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care), examined how to advance clinical research in the UK.

“It has been great to support ACRO to develop a strong dialogue between the industry and policymakers in the UK,” said Tim Sheppard, UKI Market Development Director at IQVIA, who hosted the meeting at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. “IQVIA are delighted that we could bring Lord O’Shaughnessy to debate the key issues with our colleagues from across the industry and for him to visit Barts Health NHS Trust and hear about some of the great work done here.”

Meeting participants were encouraged by the Government’s commitment to positioning the UK as an attractive and globally competitive location for clinical research. The conduct of clinical research in the UK builds on the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, while also serving NHS patients, who receive care and treatment through their participation in research.

Following the discussion, ACRO proposed six policy changes to address current research challenges, with solutions that position the country for future successes that can be shared by all stakeholders. Those policy recommendations were presented to Lord O’Shaughnessy. The proposals included creating centralized ethics review and centralized contracting mechanisms, the “Right to Write” such that UK doctors should be able to directly contact patients not registered under them who could benefit from participation in clinical trials, modernizing health data access policies, prioritizing clinical research within hospitals and supporting high-throughput clinical research facilities in NHS hospitals.

“ACRO has been very engaged in representing the clinical research industry’s interests and concerns about Brexit,” said Karen Noonan, ACRO’s Vice President, Global Regulatory Policy. “We are pleased that the UK Government is committed to the advancement of clinical research and look forward to identifying policies that advance this work in ways that benefit stakeholders across the UK.”

The clinical research industry is vital to healthcare in the UK. Each year, the UK clinical research industry conducts over 1,600 studies that involve more than 35,000 patients. ACRO member companies are also a major source of employment, providing over 13,000 highly skilled jobs. With pan-European health, data, privacy and economic implications, clinical research in the UK has impacts inside the country and beyond its borders.

About ACRO

The Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO) represents companies that provide a variety of specialized services that support the development of new pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices. Through its member companies, ACRO helps improve the quality, efficiency and safety of biomedical research. ACRO member companies employ more than 130,000 professionals worldwide and conduct research in more than 100 countries.

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