Clinical Trials - Science and Technology Committee Contents

5  Conclusions

123. For several years the Government has been aware of the key barriers to conducting clinical trials in the UK, and some progress has been made in eliminating them. We are satisfied that the introduction of the new European Clinical Trials Regulation will, if implemented as currently envisaged, make it easier to conduct trials across the EU, and we also consider the creation of the HRA to be a potentially significant step forward. Nevertheless, we consider that more can and should be done to make the UK a more attractive location to conduct clinical trials.

124. The UK regulatory and governance landscape for clinical trials remains complex, and not all researchers are yet aware of the ways in which the HRA can help them to navigate a path through this environment. The Government has also failed, so far, to eliminate the biggest barrier to initiating a clinical trial in the UK—the requirement for multiple NHS R&D approvals. In addition, despite positive public attitudes towards medical research, it is disappointingly difficult for the public to find out about potential research opportunities, and while we welcome the re-launch of the Clinical Trials Gateway, we consider that it has not yet reached its full potential. We are confident that the Government is aware of these problems and the need to resolve them, but its promises have yet to be matched by effective action. We strongly urge the Government to act on our recommendations and put an end to these long-standing issues, so that the UK can continue to make progress towards being the location of choice for the global life sciences industry.

125. Today, many of the clinical trials taking place in the UK remain unregistered and unpublished and their data continue to be unavailable to both the general public and the scientific community. This is unacceptable and we have not been impressed by the Government's efforts to resolve this important issue. Until recently, the Government has apparently been content to leave it to other groups at the national, European and global level to lead the way in tackling the problem of trial transparency and, while UK initiatives alone cannot solve what is a global problem, we do not accept limited jurisdiction as a legitimate excuse for Government inaction. We call on the Government to take decisive steps, as outlined in this Report, to ensure greater transparency in all future trials conducted in the UK, in order to demonstrate to the rest of the world how effective solutions might one day be applied at a global level.

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Prepared 17 September 2013