UK lags in clinical trial activity despite other countries recovering to pre-pandemic levels, says GlobalData

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a seismic impact in clinical trial investigations, halting studies in their tracks. Yet, while trial activity has since recovered to pre-pandemic levels in Australia and the US, the UK remains behind, according to reporting by Andrew Hillman, healthcare and pharmaceuticals data journalist at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Hillman comments: “The UK commenced 18% fewer commercial trials during the first three quarters of 2021 than over the same period in 2019. In contrast, new trial activity is above pre-pandemic levels in Australia and the US, with Australia initiating 6% more commercial trials than during the first three quarters of 2019 and the US initiating 8% more commercial trials.

“The UK had been slipping down global rankings over the five years prior to the pandemic and COVID-19 exaggerated existing issues. During the first half of the decade, one in every seven oncology trials included participation within the UK. However, by 2019, that figure had fallen to just one in 12.

“COVID-19 trials in the UK have benefited from more streamlined and pragmatic regulatory processes. These trials have also been assisted by a more proactive approach to trial initiation and participant recruitment within the NHS. Yet, the pandemic has demonstrated that an overwhelmed NHS is incompatible with a thriving clinical research sector and therefore alleviating the current pressures on the health service is key to the recovery in trial activity.”

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