A report published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has found a slight rebound for UK-based clinical trials with a 4.3% increase over the past year.

The report, titled ‘Getting back on track: Restoring the UK’s global position in industry clinical trials’, found that the number of clinical trials initiated in the UK saw a slight uptick over figures from 2021 but also that the rate is not rising fast enough to keep up with other countries.

The ABPI detailed that the amount of UK trials rose from 394 trials in 2021 to 411 in 2022, but still far below the country’s peak year of 2015, which saw 690 initiated trials.

The report also found an increase of 15% in annual recruitment in industry-sponsored clinical trials, which is up by 5,366 participants to a total of 42,088 in 2022/2023.

However, annual recruitment to industry clinical trials during 2022-2023 remained below the 58,048 participants that were recruited in 2017/18. This means that there are 16,000 fewer people taking part in clinical trials across the country compared with six years ago.

Janet Valentine, executive director of innovation and research policy at the ABPI said: “We are relieved to see that the sharp decline in industry clinical trials over the past years now shows signs of recovery, but this is not a champagne cork popping moment.

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“The UK is still ranked tenth globally as the location of choice for large commercial clinical trials, which benefit the most patients and bring income to the NHS. It’s therefore vital that the government maintains this momentum, taking further steps reversing the downward trend, to increase global confidence in UK life sciences.”

Previously, Clinical Trials Arena found that this trend is not the case everywhere in the UK, with Greater Manchester seeing a 44% increase in patients participating in clinical trials from 2017/2018 to 2021/2022 while figures slumped across the country.

The ABPI report went on to call on the UK Government to expedite the approval and set-up of clinical trials, suggesting that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency needs to be better resourced. It also called on the government to expand the National Contract Value Review’s single costing review to include early-phase and Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product (ATMP) clinical trials.

The report argued that building the capacity of National Health Service (NHS) staff to enable them to deliver clinical trials should be another priority. It noted that UK-based clinical trial companies are required to pay an additional 20% premium on top of the cost of running a trial, with the premium aimed at funding staff and facilities.

As a result, the ABPI called for a focus on creating financial guidance that allows R&D departments at NHS trusts to retain and reinvest revenue generated by industry trials into maintaining and building capacity.

Earlier this month, a study conducted by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) investigating a method of retaining potential patients for clinical trials was able to boost its pool of potential patients by 637%.