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NHS data is key to sustaining drug research in UK

ABPI, BIA and NOCRI event told shared knowledge is central to effective partnerships

Dame Sally Davies ABPI BIA NOCRI conference

A collaborative approach that makes use of the vast data capabilities of the NHS is key to ensuring the UK remains a strong presence in medicines research, an audience of healthcare stakeholders at BMA House, London, was told yesterday.

Dr Bina Rawal, research, medical and innovation director at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) made the concluding remarks as she summed up the Health Research: Partnerships for Success conference organised by the ABPI, the BioIndustry Association (BIA) and the NIHR Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure (NOCRI).

“We've got to collect the data, connect the data and then detect the signals from that data, and really leverage the headroom that we have in this space,” said Dr Rawal, who joined the ABPI last month from the Wellcome Trust.

“To our advantage, we have the NHS as massive resource where we are able to play with all that data.”

Effective use of data became a repeated theme throughout the event, which aimed to explore the rise of research partnerships between the NHS, industry and academia to improve the UK's standing in drug development and ultimately deliver better patient outcomes through innovative medicines.

It was a notion also backed by NHS representatives, with the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, saying the way research was carried out in the UK had to change, as countries such as India and China overtake it in terms of global clinical trial share - in recent years the UK has slid from second place to eighth.

“I don't think we'll be at the top, but can we make that niche for ourselves where we can do more complex models, where we do the data driven research.”

Supporting this approach is the creation of such organisations as the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – a government body to support and fund research in the NHS – which has helped industry to become a “true partner” to the NHS, according to Dame Sally.

She said: “Other countries are very jealous at the alignment of different partners. We are perpetually how helpful the NIHR's NOCRI has been as a single point of access.”

A CRO perspective on the issue was provided by Dennis Gillings, chair of Quintiles, who discussed the potential of effective use of data for patients.

“Data is driving a convergence of research and patient care. We see this by the demand for outcomes in patient care as a value in health policy.

“And this drive in data is a worldwide phenomenon, but of course [the] transparency of NHS data will drive the UK to leadership. Data will drive a lot of important thinking.”

23rd November 2012

From: Research

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