Trial Decline

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology, November 2022, Volume 46, Issue 11

Industry and the government must work closely to ensure the UK remains a competitor in the clinical research field.

A true political absurdity is currently impacting the United Kingdom, as the country bore witness on 20 Oct. 2022 to Liz Truss resigning her premiership after a mere 45 days in the ‘hot seat’—making her the shortest serving prime minister in UK history (1). Truss’ leadership was marred by political and economic turmoil, including a radical ‘mini budget’ that saw the sterling’s value plummet.

But what might this unsettling political landscape do to the UK’s bio/pharmaceutical and wider life sciences industries? Well, the relationship between the country’s government and the life sciences sector has been close over the years. As a major contributor to the economic health of the UK, the sector is an important asset and, therefore, garners significant attention and support from those in parliament.

Bolstered by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the collaborative work between the UK government and the life sciences sector has resulted in some notable achievements, such as the manufacture of a successful vaccine through the country’s Vaccines Taskforce (2). However, other areas have suffered in the wake of the pandemic, namely clinical research.

According to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) there has been a significant decline in the number of industry clinical trials initiated in the UK. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline in late-stage industry clinical research in the UK, compared to its global peers,” said Richard Torbett, chief executive of the ABPI in a press release (3). “This should ring alarm bells in the NHS [National Health Service] and in Whitehall as health leaders and policymakers look to improve patient care and deliver long-term economic growth.”

Findings from an ABPI report into the state of clinical trials in the UK has shown that consistently slow and variable set up times for clinical trials encountered in the NHS are causing some pharmaceutical companies to look elsewhere for clinical research (4). Therefore, a close relationship is needed between government and the life sciences sector now more than ever to ensure the country does not fall too far behind its global competitors.


Truss, as with her predecessor Boris Johnson, had touted support of the life sciences sector, taking to social media to voice her vision for the future: “Life sciences are at the heart of my vision to build a country fit for the future,” she tweeted (5). Industry waits with bated breath to see what the next leader might have in store for it … let’s hope they will at least last a bit longer!


1. N. Eardley, “How Big-Bang Economic Plan and Political Turmoil Sank Liz Truss,” News Article, BBC, 20 Oct. 2022.
2. UK Gov, “£260 Million to Boost Healthcare Research and Manufacturing,” Press Release,, 2 March 2022.
3. ABPI, “NHS Patients Losing Access to Innovative Treatments as UK Industry Clinical Trials Face Collapse,” Press Release, 20 Oct. 2022.
4. ABPI, Rescuing Patient Access to Industry Clinical Trials in the UK, Report, 20 Oct. 2022.
5. Liz Truss, Twitter Post @trussliz, 10 Aug. 2022.

About the author

Felicity Thomas is the European/senior editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.

Article details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 34, No. 11
November 2022
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as F. Thomas, “Trial Decline,” Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 34 (11) 2022.