Becoming a world leader in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is essential if the UK life sciences sector seeks to set itself apart from competitors – particularly in the area of clinical trials. This is the finding of our new collaborative report with MedCity and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
On 8 February, MedCity, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine and the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, brought together leading voices from across the pharmaceuticals, life sciences and health sectors to discuss EDI in clinical trials. Collective recommendations were made and these can be accessed in the report.
Despite the UK playing a leading role in COVID-19 vaccine development and continuing to pioneer cutting edge cell and gene therapies, our life sciences sector is increasingly under threat. There has been a 41% decline in the number of clinical trials initiated in the UK between 2017 and 2021, and pharmaceutical companies are scaling back their UK investments. But by amplifying our ability to deliver inclusive trials, and strengthening this unique selling point (USP), it is hoped this trend can be reversed.
The report highlights three reasons why incorporating EDI is essential in clinical trials.
It leads to improved health for all communities, as UK clinical trials often fail to reflect the full diversity of the population.
It produces more robust data demonstrating more clearly either the universal benefit of a drug or treatment, or its differential effect in different communities.
It creates jobs, boosts local economies, and supports the life sciences sector as a key strategic pillar in the UK economy.
In order to embed EDI in clinical trials, the report calls for action at all levels of the life sciences research ecosystem, from funders and regulators, through companies and research teams, to individual researchers and into communities. It lays out specific recommendations to foster a clinical research culture in which EDI is the default.