The UK is planning to attract investment of up to GBP1bn (US$1.76bn) in the medical research sector by reforming sections of state-run healthcare provider the National Health Service (NHS). Under the plans, a number of new medical centres of excellence will be established, academic fellowships will be funded, and a new system to recruit patients for clinical trials will be introduced.

The local drug industry has reacted positively to the planned reforms pledging to up its investment in NHS clinical trials by 30%, to GBP1bn (US$1.76bn). The UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) has claimed that the new measures are vital to arrest the decline in clinical trials and research in the country in recent years.

The UK has felt the competition from low-cost markets in Eastern Europe and countries such as India and China, which can offer drug development at a fraction of the price. Presently, the drug industry estimates that it costs around US$1bn to bring a drug to market in the West.

In conjunction with the new initiatives, industry sources have stressed the need for the UK government to curtail a spate of animal rights extremism in country, which threatens investment. Arson attacks have recently been directed at a number of medical researchers, especially those associated with the UK-based animal-testing facility Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).