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Report: Clinical research benefits the U.K. economy

Friday, December 2, 2016

An independent report, commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network and produced by KPMG’s Economics team, provides an assessment of the economic impact of the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s activities to support clinical research in the U.K. The report includes assessment of the economic contribution made to the U.K. economy through clinical research activity supported by the network; analysis to quantify the value of payments made to NHS Trusts for commercial studies, and the value to the NHS of pharmaceuticals used as part of industry-sponsored studies.

The report estimates that clinical research activity conducted within the NIHR Clinical Research Network infrastructure in the period April 2014 to March 2015 (FY 2014/15) helped to generate a total of £2.4 billion of gross value added (GVA) and almost 39,500 jobs. KPMG assessed the economic impact in terms of GVA which is a standard measure of the contribution of an individual investment, producer, industry or sector to a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Dr Matt Cooper, NIHR Clinical Research Network Director for Business Development and Marketing, commented, “This is great news for U.K. It shows the additional value that can be leveraged from the funding of a nationally managed infrastructure which can deliver safe, high quality clinical trials for the benefit of patients and the public. Having a research-active NHS gives better outcomes for patients, and this report helps to understand how it can also save the NHS money and can generate additional funding to reinvest into innovative research.”

A significant proportion of clinical research activity in the U.K. is supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network. In the report KPMG estimates that the NIHR Clinical Research Network supports around 70% of all (commercial and non-commercial) clinical research studies. The MHRA holds a record of all Clinical Trial Authorisation (CTA) approvals, which are required for all investigational studies of medicinal products carried out in the U.K. The MHRA estimates that 88% of studies it approves are supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

The clinical research infrastructure provided by the NIHR Clinical Research Network includes the provision of dedicated research support staff throughout the NHS, as well as meeting the costs of NHS staff who support research. It also covers the costs of using NHS facilities, such as scanners and x-rays that are needed in the course of a study, so that clinical research is not subsidized with funding that has been provided for patient care. A further aspect is the provision of specialist training, known as Good Clinical Practice Training, so that patients can be confident that research is being delivered by trained, experienced front-line NHS staff.

By using data from a range of sources (NHS Trusts, NIHR Clinical Research Network, publicly available data on the commercial industry, non-commercial funding information, and the application of evidence based assumptions) the analysis also provides an insight into how conducting commercial research can help NHS finances to go further.

Undertaking clinical studies that are funded by the life sciences industry provides an additional source of income for the NHS. On average, NHS trusts in England were estimated to receive £6,658 in revenue from life sciences companies for each patient recruited into commercial clinical research studies. This equates to an estimated total of £176 million of income for all commercial research activity supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network during the 12 month period (2014/2015). In addition, savings are achieved when life science companies provide drugs free-of-charge to patients in clinical trials. This frees up NHS resources for investment in other medicines and broadens access to healthcare for patients.

On average, the report estimated that NHS trusts in England benefitted from a pharmaceutical cost saving of £5,250 for each patient recruited into pharmaceutical-based commercial clinical research studies, where a trial drug replaced the standard of care treatment. This equates to an estimated total of £16 million of pharmaceutical cost savings for all commercial research activity supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network during the 12 month period (2014/2015).

The revenue and pharmaceutical cost savings combined equates to an estimated NHS economic benefit of £192 million for the NHS from all commercial research activity supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network during the 12 month period (2014/2015).

Qualitative data gathered during the analysis also highlighted how NIHR Clinical Research Network activities have played a key role in maintaining a strong, healthy, collaborative research environment and helped the U.K. to remain globally competitive in an expanding commercial research market. The activities highlighted include: improving equity of access to research for patients; improving study set-up times and processes; better assessments of study feasibility and deliverability; encouraging collaboration; faster patient recruitment; and generally raising the profile of research.

The report, which remains the intellectual and copyright property of KPMG, is available on the NIHR website: http://www.nihr.ac.uk/life-sciences-industry/useful-info/Key-commercial-stats.htm.

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