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Clinical research: What will be the effect of closing down “unviable” trials?

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 17 June 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1497
  1. Shaun Griffin
  1. London

The UK government’s move to shut down clinical trials that have little chance of being completed has prompted a mixed reaction, as Shaun Griffin hears

The Department of Health and Social Care for England recently wrote to research sponsors and funders urging them to shut down “unviable” research to help tackle the NHS backlog and workforce pressures resulting from the covid pandemic.1 It advised them to “review their portfolios of research in the NHS and take firm action on studies that are struggling to deliver” because they weren’t meeting participant recruitment targets, they lacked staff capacity, or the scientific question was no longer pertinent.

The letter stated, “We have asked the National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) to identify studies that are behind their targets and potentially ‘at risk’ of closure,” warning that if substantial improvements could not be achieved it would “seek to move to nationally mandated action.”

The substantial reduction in the number of studies able to recruit effectively and close on time during the pandemic has prompted what the health department has dubbed its “Research Reset” programme.2

In a statement to The BMJ a spokesperson for the department said …

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