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Two of the world's largest contract research organisations (CROs), Quintiles and PPD, have recently awarded Scotland ‘Prime Site’ status highlighting the value of doing clinical trial work in the country.

Scotland has a number of strengths when it comes to conducting drug trials:

  • Streamlined clinical trials approvals and patient recruitment throughout Scotland with centrally coordinated feasibility and governance activities
  • An established international reputation for preclinical and specialist clinical excellence 
  • Scotland carries out more medical research than anywhere else in Europe per head of population 
  • Established infrastructure and skills base supporting collaboration excellence across NHS Scotland, academia, government and industry
  • Globally recognised electronic health record system, providing valuable resource in the stratification of new and old medicines

This is why it has been able to attract five of the 10 largest CROs to its shores to benefit from the exciting drug development work being undertaken throughout the country.

In total, there are more than 140 companies employing in excess of 6,000 people in the Scotland's pharma services sector, providing expertise in:

  • Contract research
  • Contract manufacturing
  • Clinical trial management
  • Testing and compliance
  • Regulatory consulting
  • Tissue provision
  • Genetic testing 

Fastest R&D approval times in Europe

Such is the scale of drug development work in Scotland that this country undertakes more medical research, per head of population, than anywhere else in Europe.

The attraction of Scotland as a test-bed for drug discovery is the relative ease with which innovative medicines can be tested. 

The work of Health Science Scotland and NHS Research Scotland has established contractual and approval processes that substantially reduce the elapsed time and resources required to bring together the best research teams with appropriate agreements, contracts and approvals in place. 

Key to this is the NHS Research Scotland Permission Coordinating Centre which assesses applications for drug trials. 

The work of the centre has led to substantially faster R&D permissions across Scotland, which take an average of three weeks to approve – the fastest in Europe.