Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 28th November 2018.

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Photo of Lord Freyberg Lord Freyberg Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the economic importance of clinical trial recruitment, especially in cancer research, to the UK economy, and (2) the importance of timely molecular testing in modern cancer trial recruitment; and whether, as a result of any such assessment, NHS England will consider implementing national somatic gene testing in cancers with low survival rates to catalyse research.

Photo of Lord Freyberg Lord Freyberg Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment the Chief Scientific Adviser has made of the importance of molecular testing to drive modern cancer trial recruitment, and of the introduction of such testing for which cancers offer the most value to the UK in terms of driving clinical trial recruitment.

Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Clinical trial recruitment is important to the United Kingdom economy, especially in cancer research. For example, an independent report, commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) and produced by KPMG’s Economics team, provided an assessment of the economic impact of the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s activities to support clinical research in the UK. The report estimated the gross value added and employment in the UK from CRN supported clinical research activity. It estimated that in the period April 2014 to March 2015 (financial year 2014/15) this activity generated a total of £2.4 billion gross value added and almost 39,500 jobs. Studies on cancer comprise a major part of CRN activity. A copy of NIHR Clinical Research Network: Impact and Value Assessment is attached.

A growing proportion of cancer trials supported by the NIHR involve molecular testing. One of the main purposes of the NIHR is to initiate studies speedily, and deliver them to time and target. Therefore timely molecular testing is important. This involves working with National Health Service pathology services to ensure that all essential steps are in place to deliver research studies.

The Chief Scientific Adviser has not made a specific assessment of the importance of molecular testing to drive cancer trial treatment. If a clinical trial that is to be delivered by the NIHR involves somatic gene testing that is not already in place, then the NHS will set up this new somatic gene testing as part of the delivery of the trial. Thus it is the nature of the research that drives clinical trial recruitment rather than the nature of the somatic gene testing that is in place.

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