The UK is maintaining its globally competitive role as an attractive place to run clinical trials despite the ongoing political turmoil of Brexit.  The life sciences industry and the UK's position as an R&D powerhouse have continued to be prioritised by the government throughout the Brexit process.   

The UK attracts approximately 25-29% of the EU's clinical trial applications and has remained a key country for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) clinical trials globally over the past five years.   

These details were given by Dr Martyn Ward, speaking at the BIA's Regulatory Innovation Conference on September 17, 2019  

Dr. Ward stated that there is no obvious indication that Brexit is affecting clinical trial numbers, given that it will still be possible for UK sponsors to run multistate trials involving sites across the EU and the rest of the world, and that data generated in UK trials will still be admissible to support marketing authorisations in the EU and globally.  He also emphasised that the MHRA remains committed to implementing, and subsequently aligning with, the EU Clinical Trials Regulation 536/2014 as it comes into force next year.  

Dr. Sarah Blagden, Associate Professor of Experimental Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Oxford, also spoke and touched upon some of the challenges Brexit is posing to clinical trials, including the difficulties of attracting skilled EU scientists to staff trial units, and concerns over the risk of delay of entry of investigational medicinal products.  

In the event of the UK exiting the EU without a withdrawal deal, it will be necessary for a UK sponsor to have a local EU representative.   The UK has confirmed, however, that EU sponsors will be accepted without the need for an EU representative in the UK.  

As detailed in our Healthcare Brexit blog post, although the UK is committed to adhering to the Clinical Trials Regulation post-Brexit, there are challenges ahead, including in relation to access to the EU's shared central IT portal and the EU's single assessment model, both of which would require a negotiated UK/EU agreement regarding UK involvement.  In a statement released last year, the MHRA made clear that regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the UK is committed to offering a competitive service for clinical trial assessment. If the UK ends up outside of the EU network, it will still be possible for sponsors to run multistate trials involving the UK. Sponsors would have to apply to the MHRA, as well as to the concerned EU states, but the MHRA would take every effort to ensure this parallel submission is as streamlined and efficient as possible (for example, by using the same application dossier).