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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 18:21 GMT
Deal promises new drugs
Pills
Deal could speed up the development of drugs
Faster development of new drugs could result from a deal struck between the government and the pharmaceutical industry.

The agreement means that for the first time clinical trails of drugs can be financed through joint funding from the NHS and the commercial sector.

However, the new arrangement will be limited to trials that are not overtly commercial in their aim.


It is a further positive sign of the government's willingness to sustain a world-leading pharmaceutical industry in this country

Lord Hunt
Guidance published by the government also makes it clear how the NHS and private sector can work together.

It is hoped that this new clarity will speed up the clinical trials process - resulting in new drugs becoming available more speedily to the public.

In addition, the process by which permission is granted for clinical trials has been streamlined to make it more speedy.

Health Minister Lord Hunt said: "I am delighted that we have reached agreement on this partnership.

"This will enable joint funding of clinical research, including clinical trials that are important to the industry, the NHS and most importantly to its patients.

"It is a further positive sign of the government's willingness to sustain a world-leading pharmaceutical industry in this country."

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Dr Tom McKillop, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: "This provides an excellent basis for continued co-operation with government on clinical research matters in this country."

A spokeswoman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told BBC News Online that previous collaborations with the NHS had been very ad-hoc in nature.

She said: "A lot more can be achieved by working together and pooling resources."

The deal is based on the recommendations of a Pharmaceutical Industry Competitiveness Task Force set up by the government to try to improve conditions for the pharmaceutical industry in the UK.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | Health
NHS 'failing to invest in drugs'
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