Officials prepare to dismantle patent rules that stifle drug R&D

As part of an ongoing campaign to streamline the clinical trial process in hopes of spurring its drug R&D industry, U.K. officials are preparing to dismantle patent rules which make it difficult for developers to compare their experimental therapies with currently used standards in clinical studies.

Under the current law, using a standard therapy in a clinical study qualifies as a costly infringement, according to The Telegraph. And as a result the government plans to change the Patent Act by this fall to remove the barrier--falling in line with requests from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and others who say they've been forced to move studies out of the country to avoid sanctions.

"The great frustration has been that we have an excellent research base but we need to ensure that our innovations and bright ideas can get to market ... [the process] needs to happen more rapidly and more efficiently," Science Minister David Willetts told The Telegraph.

Willetts went on to remark that the country's patent laws are far more restrictive than the rules established by most other European countries. "We are in a minority. When we consulted with the life sciences sector, we were told that this is a problem." 

Over the past 18 months the coalition government in power has been quite responsive to what the biopharma industry has been telling them. Shocked by Pfizer's decision to exit the massive R&D facilities it had in Sandwich, the government created a Life Sciences Strategy in late 2011, which includes a £180 million Catalyst Fund to assist early-stage developers. And government officials say they'll consider any new measures that would make it more appealing to conduct drug research in the U.K.

- here's the story from The Telegraph