The number of new commercial-contract studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) in England rose by 17% year on year to 455 in 2012/13, the Network’s latest annual statistics show.

There was also growth of 19% in the number of patients engaged in commercial contract studies, with 20,500 recruited during the period April 2012 to March 2013, the Network reported. “This continues the upward trend of the last two years,” it added.

The improved performance meant there was an increase of one percentage point, from 62% to 63%, in the proportion of NHS Trusts in England conducting commercial-contract clinical research in England.

Time and target

Among other gratifying trends in the data for 2012/13 was that the number of commercial-contract studies delivering 100% to time and target through the NIHR CRN has doubled since 2010.

With Network support, it now takes only 61 days on average to gain NHS permission for a commercial contract study across all the sites involved in the research, the NIHR CRN noted.

The data are particularly encouraging given the economic and other pressures to move clinical trials out of the UK and into developing markets with lower upfront costs and large, available patient populations.

 “The life-sciences industry makes a vital contribution to the health and wealth of the nation, so it is hugely important that we do everything we can to support its activities,” commented Network chief executive Dr Jonathan Sheffield.

That involves improving the speed, efficiency and consistency of late-phase clinical-study delivery, an area in which the NIHR CRN made “significant progress” during the last financial year. 

More to do

“We are not complacent, and we know there is much more work to do, but things are definitely moving in the right direction,” Sheffield added. 

“Based on these positive trends, we believe that global life-sciences companies can look to the UK for study delivery with growing confidence.”

The Network’s Annual Statistics document is available at: