Intended for healthcare professionals


Clinical research adds billions to UK economy, analysis shows

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 16 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6052
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Clinical research backed by England’s national funder, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), contributed an estimated £2.7bn (€3.1bn; $3.4bn) to the UK economy and supported over 47 000 jobs last year, an analysis has shown.1

NIHR’s Clinical Research Network works to ensure that research funded by the institute delivers high quality studies. The network commissioned an economic team at the management consultancy KPMG to assess the value of clinical research to the NHS, the UK economy, and the job market from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

This found that clinical research supported by the network—which amounts to around 85% of all commercial studies in England approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency—generated an estimated £8bn of gross value added and 47 467 full time equivalent jobs for the UK over those three years.

The report also assessed how much NHS trusts earned for delivering research studies. For each patient recruited to a trial supported by the network, trusts received an estimated average £9200 from life sciences companies. And they saved an estimated £5800 a patient on average where trial drugs replaced standard treatment.

KPMG also reported that the number of studies and the number of patients recruited to studies supported by the Clinical Research Network both increased by around 30% from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the network, said, “The report highlights and evidences the significant contribution that the delivery of clinical research within the UK makes to the health and the wealth of the nation.

“Put simply, clinical research benefits our economy enormously—it creates jobs and generates much needed income and savings for NHS trusts, ultimately helping NHS finances to go further while improving patient care and services through the development of new drugs and treatments.”