'Relax Rules on Clinical Trials or Patients Will Lose out to US' Research Stifled, Says Professor
Byline: Madeleine Brindley Health Editor
A LEADING Welsh professor has claimed pioneering research work is being stifled by red tape and over-regulation.
Professor John Cockcroft, who is based in Cardiff, has said that unless the UK rules about clinical trials are relaxed the country will lose its reputation - and funding - for clinical research to the US.
His comments come after UK experts have claimed that patients are missing out on the benefits of taking part in clinical trails because of too much regulation.
Medical academics from the University of Cambridge and the University of Birmingham said the regulations designed to protect patients are placing an "undue burden" on scientific inquiries but failing to make trials any safer.
Prof Cockcroft, a professor of cardiology based at the Wales Heart Research Institute, in Heath Park, Cardiff, said: "If this issue isn't addressed, then just like investment moves out of the UK, so clinical trials and funding will move out of the UK to countries with more sensible view of regulation."
The problems stem from the way the UK has implemented the European Union's Clinical Trials Directive, forcing scientists to seek approval for research from two or even three bodies.
This in turn is increasing the amount of paperwork involved and delaying the start of trials.
Prof Cockroft said he had to wait 12 months for approval for one study, involving the use of high-tech scans to look for inflammation in patients' aorta.
The "pretty ground-breaking" study took just two weeks to carry out.
In another example Prof Cockcroft said he was forced to use a private company's mobile CT scanner - parked behind his offices - because NHS facilities were not yet available. …