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New report highlights how NIHR support for clinical research benefits the UK economy and NHS

Published: 16 October 2019

NIHR support for clinical research contributes to the UK economy, creates jobs and generates income for the NHS, a new report shows.

The value of clinical research to the NHS, the UK economy and jobs market has been evaluated in a new report, which provides an assessment of the economic impact of the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s (CRN) activities to support clinical research in England.

The report, produced by KPMG UK’s Economics team and commissioned by the NIHR CRN, covers the financial period 2016/17 to 2018/19 and presents amalgamated three year data alongside figures for each individual financial year (FY). It shows that over this three year period, clinical research supported by the NIHR CRN generated an estimated £8bn of gross value added (GVA) and 47,467 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs for the UK.

Using data from a range of sources, the report also provides an insight into the benefits and income that NHS providers gain through undertaking commercial contract research - studies sponsored by life sciences companies and delivered alongside NHS care. The report provides an analysis of the value of payments to NHS trusts for delivering commercial research studies. It also estimates how much NHS providers save through using medicines provided as part of commercial studies, where the company bears the cost of the medicine, in place of the standard NHS treatment.

Dr Jonathan Sheffield OBE, Chief Executive of the NIHR Clinical Research Network said:

“The report highlights and evidences the significant contribution that the delivery of clinical research within the UK makes to the health and the wealth of the nation. Put simply, clinical research benefits our economy enormously - it creates jobs, and generates much needed income and savings for NHS Trusts - ultimately helping NHS finances to go further while improving patient care and services through the development of new drugs and treatments.”

“The NIHR CRN plays a crucial role in this through our dedicated research delivery support and expertise, which enables life science companies to run their trials across the NHS in England. It is this unparalleled offer to the pharmaceutical industry which helps to ensure the UK and the NHS remain among the very best places in the world to run clinical trials.”

Key findings from the report include:

Over the three year period (financial years) 2016/17 to 2018/19:

  • The estimated annual economic contribution of NIHR CRN supported studies increased by £0.1 billion (GVA) between 2016/17 and 2018/19 (up from £2.6 billion in FY 2016/17, to £2.7 billion in FY 2018/19) - linked to increased commercial contract research activity supported by the NIHR CRN  
  • For each patient recruited onto a commercial trial supported by the NIHR CRN, on average NHS providers in England received an estimated £9,200 from life sciences companies, and on average saved an estimated £5,800 per patient (where trial drugs replaced the standard treatment)
  • The number of studies and patients recruited onto NIHR CRN supported studies have both increased by approximately 30% in three years (FY 2016/17 – FY 2018/19)

For financial year 2018/19:

  • Supported clinical research activity generated around £2.7 billion of gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy and an estimated 47,500 FTE jobs
  • The total estimated income for the NHS from delivering commercial clinical trials was £355 million, and the total estimated cost saving was £28.6 million (where trial drugs were used in place of standard) 

Matt Cooper, Business Development and Marketing Director at the NIHR Clinical Research Network said:

“The benefits to the UK of a strong and productive NIHR Clinical Research Network, working in partnership with the NHS, are clearly demonstrated in this report. It describes sustained growth in the Clinical Research Network Portfolio of both clinical research and its value to the UK economy -  £2.7billion in 2018/19, an increase of £300million from the previous report in 2016.

“This welcome report comes at a critical moment for commercial clinical research in the UK and gives further support to the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy’s assertion of the vital importance of clinical research to the UK economy.”

A copy of the 2016 report is also available on request.

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