Job losses at AstraZeneca show the desperate need for a clinical trials rethink

Not a day goes by without further job losses being reported, and the 7,300 posts cut by pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca today is a tragic blow for the hardworking people they employ. But it’s not just those that lose their jobs who will be affected. Many of the cuts will be to the company’s research and development teams, which means less research into new, life-saving drugs.

We’re facing a crisis in antimicrobial resistance and desperately need new antibiotics. We need to find new ways to fight non-communicable killers such as cancer, diabetes and COPD, and life-threatening infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis. But none of this will happen without new research.

The UK is traditionally a world leader in clinical research, but we’re losing out to trials undertaken in the emerging economies of Asia. We can never compete with their low prices, and we will never compromise on patient safety, but what we can do in the UK and the rest of Europe is provide high levels of expertise, efficiency and reliability.

Right now, though, we’re struggling. Clinical trials can be difficult and costly to carry out, and researchers often have to jump through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops. That’s why this year the European Parliament will be revising the Clinical Trials Directive to make sure that we can continue to be world leaders in finding new ways to treat diseases.

We also want to ensure the laws are the same across all EU countries to allow cross-border trials to be easily achievable. This is especially vital for rare diseases where there just aren’t enough patients in the UK to make a trial feasible. I’ve been working with children suffering from rare brain tumours who desperately need more clinical trials to be carried out in conjunction with our European partners.

It is also important that trials can be undertaken by numerous stakeholders working together. Whilst clinical trials are of course important for big pharmaceutical companies, it is vital that academics, professional bodies and the NHS can also sponsor or co-sponsor them. When the European Parliament starts work on this next year I will be making sure all these points are covered.

We need to make sure the UK can, with the rest of the EU, lead the way in medical research. Jobs in research and development should be being created, not cut. It’s not just about finding new ways to treat diseases, it’s about our economic health as well.

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  1. Adriana says:

    thanks for share!

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