UK government pledges to reverse flagging trials takeup as part of £650M life sciences 'war chest'

The U.K. government has pledged that a chunk of the 650 million pound sterling ($803 million) funding package it has earmarked to boost the country’s life sciences industry will go toward reversing the slowdown in clinical trial uptake.

The government described the "Life Sci for Growth" package as a “war chest to fire up the U.K.’s life sciences sector” spread across 10 different policies. It gave most prominence to the money allocated “to improve clinical trials to bring new medicines to patients faster.”

The 121 million pounds ($149 million)—made up of a combination of new and existing funds—will help reduce the regulatory burden for approving new studies as well as “speed up clinical trials and improve access to real-time data via new Clinical Trial Acceleration Networks.”

The government said it was responding to a review commissioned on commercial clinical trials, which highlighted a 44% decline in studies initiated in the U.K. between 2017 and 2021. As a result, the U.K. has dropped from fourth to 10th place in the global ranking of phase 3 clinical trials.

In its own response to the report today, the government blamed the drop-off in trials on “international competition and a domestic pivot towards COVID-19 research during much of that period, which has impacted set-up and recruitment times for other research.”

Of the remaining "war chest" funds, up to 48 million pounds ($59 million) will be used for “scientific innovation to prepare for any future health emergencies” and 250 million pounds ($308 million) used “to incentivize pension schemes to invest in our most promising science and tech firms.”

The U.K.'s biological data bank, which also launched this week, will receive 154 million pounds ($190 million) to increase its capacity. The bank will be piloted by the U.K.’s medicines watchdog and will act as a resource of genetic data and patient samples.