The Department has not made an estimate of the overall value of research in medicines generated by early-phase clinical research organisations. However, there are several reports which have evaluated the return on investment in different areas, including an independent study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), Wellcome, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Arthritis Research UK on musculoskeletal disease research (published January 2018).
MRC, which is part of UK Research and Innovation, supports translational research and experimental medicine. Pre-clinical research and early clinical testing is supported through the Developmental Funding Pathway Scheme to which the MRC commits up to £30 million per year, CROs may be included in MRC grants on a fee for service basis. The scheme is part of the Biomedical Catalyst programme funded in partnership with Innovate UK. Experimental medicine is a strategic priority for the MRC and can be supported across the research portfolio and industry partnerships, such as the MRC-Industry Asset Sharing Initiative.
The DHSC-funded NIHR invests over £1 billion annually to fund translational, clinical and applied health research spanning the whole innovation pathway. This includes support for research infrastructure in the NHS providing the expertise and facilities the NHS needs for first-class research which health and life sciences researchers, including CROs, can access at any stage of the clinical development process. The main NIHR-funded research infrastructure in the NHS which supports early translational (experimental medicine) clinical trials are the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and NIHR Clinical Research Facilities. In 2016/17, NIHR funding of £928 million was announced for new NIHR BRCs and NIHR CRFs for 5 years from April 2017. These schemes have seen year-on-year increases in the number of early phase trials (including first-in-human and up to and including phase II) since 2010: from 602 early phase studies in 2010/11 to 2,870 in 2016/17.