Australia rises in global rankings of early and mid-stage clinical trials

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A new report shows that Australia has moved ahead of the UK as a location for industry-initiated early and mid-phase clinical trials.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the UK's equivalent of Medicines Australia, has issued a new report detailing what it describes as the "collapse" of industry-initiated clinical trials in the country.

Its report shows that the number of industry clinical trials initiated in the UK per year fell by 41 per cent between 2017 and 2021.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline in late-stage industry clinical research in the UK, compared to its global peers. This should ring alarm bells in the NHS and in Whitehall as health leaders and policymakers look to improve patient care and deliver long-term economic growth," said ABPI CEO Richard Torbett.

The report attributed the UK's declining performance to slow and variable study set-up and recruitment timelines.

In 2020, the UK's median time between a clinical trial applying for regulatory approval and that trial delivering its first dose to a participant was 247 days, an increase of 25 days since 2018.

"Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly placing their trials in other countries (e.g. Spain and Australia) and reviewing UK research affiliate headcounts," says the report.

The report shows Australia rising to third in the number of industry-initiated clinical Phase 1 clinical trials in 2021, up from sixth in 2017. The 107 trials initiated in Australia was ahead of the UK, 92, and only behind the US (505) and China (395).

In 2021, Australia ranked fourth in the number of industry-initiated Phase 2 clinical trials, having not made the top ten in 2017.

However, having been ranked tenth in 2017 for the number Phase 3 trials initiated, Australia is no longer in the top ten.