The Department of Health (DoH) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have teamed up to run a programme of regional workshops in the UK promoting clinical research in the National Health Service (NHS) in partnership with the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries.

The aim is to provide a forum for researchers, clinical trial sponsors and contract research organisations (CROs) to discuss model Clinical Trial Agreements and other tools developed to facilitate more rapid set-up and initiation of trials in the UK. Participants are also encouraged to discuss the problems faced by companies sponsoring trials in the UK.

The workshops start in Southampton on 13 March, moving then to Manchester (17 March), Cambridge (18 March), Birmingham (19 March), London (14 April), Newcastle (6 May), Edinburgh (7 May) and Cardiff (14 May). They are open to representatives of NHS bodies, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, CROs and medical schools, as well as to clinical researchers and research managers.

Topics to be discussed will include the importance and value of clinical research to national health and wealth in the UK; clinical trial metrics and recent performance from an industry perspective; and the rationale for, and development of, model Clinical Trial Agreements (mCTAs), together with an overview of the structure and content of the CRO mCTA.

In October 2007, a model Clinical Trial Agreement tailored specifically to contract research organisations was introduced for studies conducted through the NHS. It was based on the revised mCTA for pharmaceutical companies and NHS organisations introduced in the UK one year earlier.

As with that document, which removed the need for individual site-by-site reviews in negotiating agreements for industry-sponsored trials in NHS hospitals, the aim was to streamline procedures and enable studies involving NHS patients to start more quickly. The UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), which is working to make the NHS a first-choice location for clinical trials in the face of increasing competition from abroad, was among the bodies to endorse the new agreement.

Further information about the regional workshop programme may be found on the website of the NHS Research and Development Forum at www. rdforum.nhs.uk/events.htm.