The UK Government has signed a deal with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) in a bid to accelerate the country’s clinical trials industry with a £400m investment.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care has established a new voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing, access and growth (VPAG), aimed at saving the NHS £14bn ($17.5bn) over five years.

The UK Government has said that the deal secures savings for the NHS that would be double those under the current medicine pricing agreement, but also will enable the NHS to increase the speed at which it can adopt new procedures.

The announcement follows shortly after the previous UK Health Minister Steve Barclay was removed from his position following a cabinet reshuffle that saw Member of Parliament Victoria Atkins taking the reins.

Atkins said: “Millions of NHS patients will benefit from this momentous, UK-wide agreement. Not only will it save the health service billions of pounds every year, it will allow more patients to quickly access the latest life-saving medicines and treatments.

“This deal will also ensure the UK remains a world leader in driving forward innovative healthcare while boosting our economy, with hundreds of millions of pounds invested in vital research, clinical trials and manufacturing.”

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Coming into effect at the start of 2024 and set to run until 2028, the deal with the ABPI will see the level of annual allowed growth in sales of branded medicines doubling from 2% in 2024 to 4% by 2027.

It also introduces an affordability mechanism for older medicines. Drugs that do not see price reductions over time will be forced to pay a top-up rate of up to 25%, alongside the already standing base rate of 10% for older medicines.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said: “With significant new industry investment in research, clinical trials and manufacturing, this deal will bolster Britain’s position as the largest life sciences hub in Europe and support a sector so critical to our country’s health, wealth and resilience.”

A 2023 report published by GlobalData on the post-Brexit impact on the UK’s life sciences sector found that 83% of respondents from the EU and 71% from the UK stated that the UK was no longer an attractive destination for healthcare research.

GlobalData is the parent company of Clinical Trials Arena.

Earlier this month, a report from the ABPI that found a slight increase in the rate of clinical trials launched in the UK, rising by 4.3% over previous years.