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Future Investment in Clinical Research Report sets out Roadmap to Expand Irish Clinical Research Landscape

See Report here

Emma Corcoran, patient advocate for Cancer Trials Ireland, was a panel speaker at the launch of the Future Investment in Clinical Research Report

A radical report ‘Future Investment in Clinical Research’,  unveiled today, calls for a major step-change to enable Ireland to increase its clinical research capability fourfold over the next five years. The report advocates for a joint Government and industry funded programme to enhance and scale-up the national clinical research infrastructure that would deliver a significant increase in the number  of international and multicentre clinical trials conducted in Ireland, offering increased access to new emerging therapies for Irish patients and generating an additional 3,000 direct and indirect jobs with gross value added of €200-€300 million per annum.  A wide range of leading experts in clinical research from patient representative bodies, academia, clinical research centres, healthcare delivery, funding agencies and the Biopharma and MedTech industries were involved in the development of this strategic report, which outlines a roadmap of specific recommendations over a one to five year term.

The report, shared at a seminar in Dublin, argues that a well-resourced and functioning clinical research system should be a fundamental component of the overall healthcare system, benefiting patients, the healthcare delivery system, research and academia. It is proven internationally that the more research-active a national health system is, the better the outcomes for patients. It is also a unique selling point for the very large life sciences sector operating here in Ireland.

While acknowledging the substantial investment made to date by Government in the clinical research infrastructure, the report sets out its vision and key recommendations for an integrated Irish clinical research system that drives excellence and innovation to further advance patient health and economic prosperity. Specifically, it recommends the development of this strategic infrastructure over five years calling for an initial investment of €22m into clinical research in Year One. It also confirms that the Biopharma and MedTech industries will match Government investment.

The report also notes that, on average, each patient participating in a clinical trial will generate a benefit of €13,500 to the economy. Additionally, the health service benefits from medicines worth an average of €5,899 per patient for those participating in clinical trials. In 2018, an estimated 500* Irish patients were recruited into clinical trials of medicinal products for 24 months, which had estimated annual revenues and savings to the health service of €7.5 million and €5.9 million, respectively. Clinical research is a labour-intensive activity undertaken by a highly skilled and educated workforce. It has the potential to become a key feature of Ireland’s knowledge economy.

Pictured from left to right: Matt Moran, Director of BioPharmaChem Ireland; Ciara Peters, Project Manager of Future Investment in Clinical Research at CRDI; and Prof Pat O’Mahony, Chief Executive of CRDI & Chair of Future Investment in Clinical Research Steering Committee

According to Prof. Pat O’Mahony, Chief Executive, Clinical Research Development Ireland (CRDI), who chaired the Steering Committee, a well-resourced and scaled-up national infrastructure for clinical research offers more opportunity for patients to participate in trials, which provides for better patient outcomes overall. “Ireland is doing about a quarter of what we should be doing in the realm of Clinical Research – for example, in Denmark, which has the same population as Ireland, four times the number of clinical trials take place. Our life sciences sector has grown rapidly over the past half-century, to a point where it now has global significance. However, our clinical research system, infrastructure or performance do not compare with our growth in the manufacturing sector. A real opportunity exists here now, to enhance Ireland’s level of clinical research to its fullest potential.

“We see internationally that outcomes for patients are always better in countries where clinical research is further advanced. It is proven that the more research-active a national health system is, the better the outcomes for patients. For Ireland to emulate the success of other countries’ clinical research, further collaboration and investment is required. I thank all who have contributed to this report and look forward to engaging further with stakeholders and policy makers to action the various recommendations to benefit both Irish patients and the Irish economy.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, added, “I welcome this report and particularly the focus on strengthening the research capabilities within the health system. This will benefit patients, health care professionals, entrepreneurs and industry.”

Speaking at today’s event, Avril Kennan, CEO of Medical Research Charities Group, said, “For Irish patients, participation in clinical research means the possibility of innovative medicines sooner, better healthcare and the possibility to make a difference for others with the same health issues. Too few patients in Ireland are currently offered the possibility to take part in clinical research. Investment in the clinical research system will bring economic benefits, will help boost a beleaguered HSE staff and, most importantly, will lead to better health and quality of life for the Irish people.

Working Group Members (l to r): Jeremy Towns of Wellcome Trust-HRB CRF at St James’s Hospital, Dr Fionnuala Keane of HRB CRCI and Dr Aine Murphy, Ciara Peters and Professor Pat O’Mahony of CRDI.

“The recommendations in this report mirror and support calls that patient organisations and medical research charities have been making for improved clinical research in Ireland over many years. The report represents not some vague hope for the future but the potential to make a real difference to our parents, our children, our friends and all those we hold dear. We were delighted to work with all partners on this report and to have the opportunity to bring the perspectives of patient organisations and medical research charities to its development.”

The report was compiled over one year by a vast group of senior colleagues from clinical research facilities, patient groups, funding and enterprise agencies, academia and industry. CRDI convened these stakeholders as a Steering Committee to strategically examine and define the optimal future clinical research infrastructure, support, capacity and capability.