PPD has formed a strategic alliance with NHS Research Scotland (NRS) aimed at streamlining procedures and boosting patient recruitment for clinical trials in the region.

The US-based contract research organisation (CRO) has a longstanding relationship with the Scottish government and employs more than 300 clinical research professionals at its facility in Bellshill, Lanarkshire.

It will work closely with the major Health Boards in Scotland to reduce further start-up times for clinical studies, streamline regulatory approval processes, raise the number of patients recruited into trials, and ensure “the availability of resources and training to increase the number of physicians and support staff conducting research”, the partners said.

A partnership between the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates and NHSScotland, NRS is the body responsible for making sure Scotland offers a globally competitive clinical-research environment.

Facilitating R&D approvals

It has already made significant progress in facilitating R&D approvals for multicentre trials across Scotland, a process managed by the NHS Research Scotland Permissions Coordinating Centre (NRS Permissions CC) in Aberdeen.

According to NHS Permissions CC, which works with researchers, companies and individual Health Boards to ensure studies are reviewed as promptly as possible, the median R&D approval time for studies across Scotland is currently 16 working days. NRS is now looking to other key areas of delivery, such as recruitment to target.

The strategic alliance between NRS and PPD covers a broad range of Phase I-III clinical trials across multiple therapeutic areas, as well as biosimilar and post-approval studies.

Extremely attractive

The region’s “intellectual and technical resources, coupled with recent advances in streamlining processes for conducting clinical research, make Scotland an extremely attractive location for clinical research”, commented Roger Newbery, PPD’s vice president of clinical management for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

 “The population’s high participation rate in clinical trials and our new collaboration should enable us to assist our clients in accelerating their important research programmes in Scotland.”

A “significant percentage” of Scotland’s 5.3 million population have participated in clinical trials, while the region has a high incidence and prevalence of diseases in key therapeutic categories for clinical research, the partners noted.

Focus areas for the Scottish government include cardiovascular disease, dermatology, gastrointestinal disease, infectious disease, inflammation/immunology, metabolic disease, neuroscience, oncology, ophthalmology, psychiatry, respiratory disease, stroke, tissue research and women's health.