There is much post-Brexit talk of using our new-found political independence to liberalise clinical trials in the U.K.
We can cut ourselves free of all that terrible EU red-tape that has weighed us down. Or so the argument goes. We can be quicker and more efficient than other countries. We will be more attractive to research funders and the global pharmaceutical industry in particular.
I am not so sure it will be that easy to extract ourselves completely and utterly judging by the furrowed brows across Westminster and Whitehall.
Nor am I sure we can lay the blame for our trials and tribulations in clinical research totally at the door of the EU. That’s if you accept the picture of doom and gloom that has been painted. I don’t.
We have recovered our international position well in clinical research in the last 10 years. Just look at the number of trials that are first to recruit in the U.K. This is down to the NIHR and its willingness to take on a range of vested interests at home – interests that were far more of a barrier than any EU law.
What I do know is that if things go belly up in the future we won’t have the EU to use as a punch bag. We will only have ourselves to blame.
The yet to be published and ironically named Accelerated Access Review is just such an example of how we are quite capable of slowing things down on our own in the UK. Right down until all the voices are distorted. We really don’t need any help from others.
Not everyone will greet the idea of liberalising clinical research with unbridled enthusiasm. The consumer experience of deregulating markets and cutting red tapes is not always wholly positive. Choice can come with a price. I say this as a frequent passenger on a semi-rural bus service. Need i say more.
Frankly, I wonder whether liberalisation is really the best we can for a post-Brexit moonshot. Surely liberalisation is the means to an end not the end in itself?
I would much prefer us to use liberalisation as a platform for the UK to change the face of clinical trials globally. To be the one that everyone watches.
To become the most innovative nation when it comes to clinical trial design; to be the nation that understands and reflects the patient experience of research better than ever; to be the nation that involves patients and carers in designing all its trials because this way leads to greater effectiveness and efficiency. Total public involvement in the way that Barcelona FC play ‘total football.’
However we got here, we now have an opportunity to do something amazing with patients and the public.