Press release

Lord O’Shaughnessy to lead independent review into UK clinical trials

Lord James O’Shaughnessy has been appointed to conduct an independent review into the UK commercial clinical trials landscape.

Office for Life Sciences

The government has appointed Lord James O’Shaughnessy, Senior Partner at consultancy firm Newmarket Strategy, Board Member of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), and former Health Minister, to conduct an independent review into the UK commercial clinical trials landscape.

The review will offer recommendations on how commercial clinical trials can help the life sciences sector unlock UK growth and investment opportunities. This will also advise on how to resolve key challenges in conducting commercial clinical trials in the UK.

George Freeman, Minister for State at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:

Commercial clinical trials are absolutely vital to both our UK life sciences sector and widening NHS patient access to innovative medicines all across the UK.

The UK has traditionally been a strong global location for trials, as demonstrated most recently through the ground-breaking Covid Recovery trial which was set up in record time and was the world’s largest randomised controlled trial for COVID-19.

However, our life sciences sector has reported a 44% fall in recruitment of patients to commercial clinical trials between 2017 and 2021 - so it is vital that we act to rebuild competitiveness.

That is why I’m delighted that Lord O’Shaughnessy will lead this independent review to identify the key steps we need to take.

Health Minister, Will Quince, said:

We’re harnessing the same spirit of innovation that delivered the COVID-19 vaccine and working hand in hand with the NHS, industry and healthcare experts to get cutting-edge medicines to patients faster.

This review will help us to find new ways to conduct commercial clinical trials that will speed up diagnosis, enhance treatment and enable the NHS to deliver world-class care, as well as cementing our position as a life sciences super power.

The UK continues to lead the way in ground-breaking research and I look forward to receiving Lord O’Shaughnessy’s recommendations.

Lord O’Shaughnessy’s review will build on the government’s 10-year vision for clinical trials, Saving and Improving Lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery, published in March 2021. The review will take account of the work of the Recovery Resilience and Growth (UK RRG) programme, which brings together partners across the health system and industry to help deliver this 10-year vision.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have outlined a 44% drop in the number of participants recruited to commercial clinical trials in the last 5 years, exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic. The number of industry clinical trials initiated in the UK per year fell by 41% between 2017 and 2021.

Lord O’Shaughnessy will publish his advice this spring. This will include recommendations of priority actions to make progress in 2023, as well as setting out longer-term ambitions for UK clinical trials.

Published 20 February 2023