The United Kingdom is leading in Europe for early-stage clinical research according to a new report from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), but it falls in its ranking when it comes to the late-stage studies. These findings come from their first annual report into clinical trials. It demonstrates the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s clinical research sector.

The Report

The ABPI’s report goes into a variety of fields, but it shows that the UK’s strongest area is cancer. With an average of 201 trials starting per year. It is also one of the leading countries in research for heart disease, immunology, and conditions affecting the nervous system.

The UK ranked first in Europe and third in Europe for number of early clinical trials, otherwise known as phase one. They also ranked second in the world and first in Europe for the second phase. According to the site MoneyPug, which is used to find life insurance in the UK, when it comes to later stage trials, however, the UK falls in its rankings. It was fifth globally for phase three. The United States dominates in the rankings globally across the board.

Strengthening Research

While the UK does very well with clinical research rates, maintaining the leading position and the benefits of it is difficult in the face of a lot of global and internal change. For example, an average of 28 percent of all clinical trial applications (CTAs) in the EU have come from the United Kingdom, which conducts the most phase one and phase two studies in Europe. This has been built upon the ability to attract investment for that research, and with Brexit inching ever-nearer, the opportunity for investments in clinical research may wane.

A big challenge is competing against attractive international markets. There are a lot of cheaper countries that are willing to provide R&D resources. Clinical trials will have to remain enticing in the UK if they are going to survive the ending of ties between the United Kingdom and the European Union. It will be a challenge for the UK to compete with not only the European countries that invest heavily in science and healthcare, but with the emerging economies of China and Brazil that are much more affordable.

The United Kingdom will have to not keep the strength of its early stage development, but improve upon its later stage research as well. More phase three and four clinical trials must be held to improve our domestic research as we go into unknown territory with Brexit. The ABPI report calls on the government to continue supporting the sector.

At present, the UK has committed to spending 2.4 percent of its GPD on research and development by 2028. It will reach three percent by 2030. While the process seems slow, it is probably a good thing. With confusion over what a post-Brexit UK will look like, jumping the gun could negatively impact the field.

For the Health of Its Own People

While historically clinical research and development has come from outside investment, this doesn’t mean that going forward it has to. We should invest in our clinical health trials not for monetary reasons, but for the health of our own people. If we want our citizens to be healthy and happy, we should invest more in their posterity. Instead of worrying about how we can export this knowledge, it is possible to utilize healthcare studies for what they’re for—the health of the people who subsidize it with their taxes. While we can all agree that outside money coming in is a good thing, the well-being of the British citizen is more important. The knowledge that is gained from this pursuit can and will enrich the world.

However you feel about the where the research resources are placed, investing in the research for the basic of reason of health will lead to all the other growth, opportunity, and prosperity we want to come from outside investments and focusing solely on the first stages of clinical trials. Taking the short way out never works, committing to the long-term sustainability and responsibility that comes with performing our own clinical trials for the health of our own people inside the country.

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