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Press release: Clinical Practice Research Datalink launches to improve health research

Press release

Date: 29 March 2012
Time: 15:00
Contact: Press Office 020 3080 7651
or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk
Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

Health researchers were boosted today with the launch of the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) - a world-class e-health secure research service – that will help improve public health, develop new treatments for patients faster and attract investment in the UK’s life sciences sector and economy.

The CPRD is a key part of the government’s Plan for Growth and will enable health researchers to have better access to anonymised NHS data from patients suffering  with different health conditions like cancer and diabetes. This will help researchers to better understand the causes of illness and protect public health while ensuring that the UK is the place for new health research projects. All patient data is anonymised, robustly protecting people’s confidentiality. Patients can opt-out if they wish by speaking to their doctor.

The new e-health secure research service combines the expertise of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) General Practice Research Database (GPRD) and the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Capability Programme which piloted the service over the last four years. The CPRD will be hosted and managed by the MHRA.

This collaborative approach will be at the forefront of delivering a world-class health research service by allowing life science researchers to draw on the power of large linked anonymised data sets on an unprecedented scale. It will also provide novel and powerful ways in which clinical trials can be undertaken.

The CPRD will build on the current support for researchers already in place across a number of areas including:

Data services: Access to data for researchers (NHS, social care and others); data matching and linkage services, data validation and access to real time data to facilitate surveillance activities and support the public health agenda.

Interventional research services: Feasibility of research proposal (ie are there enough research subjects in a given area to undertake the study?); site and patient level recruitment; full electronic-data (e-data) services; linkage services for clinical trials, full clinical trial input; biological sample collection and linkage; patient reported outcomes collection and linkage.

Research services: Advise on research methodology, research governance and feasibility of research proposals; provide consultancy services including the provision of patient and / or healthcare professional input; ability to undertake research studies on behalf of customers.

MHRA Chief Executive, Professor Sir Kent Woods, said:

“The Clinical Practice Research Datalink will provide new data and research services that will improve the health of patients and also make the UK a world leader in life sciences research.
“All the data from patients will be anonymised and no personal details will be shared with health researchers. The MHRA is a science and research based organisation and CPRD continues our contribution to improving public health.”

Health Minister, Lord Howe, said:

"This is an exciting and unique resource which will be of huge value to researchers as they develop new treatments to the benefit of patients right across the NHS. It will help cement our reputation as world leaders in life sciences research."

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said:

“The UK is a world leader in life sciences, but both the research base and industry tell us that we could make better use of data in order to drive medical breakthroughs. The Clinical Practice Research Datalink will provide researchers with access to safeguarded data that respects patient confidentiality. This will give valuable insights into serious health conditions and ultimately help reduce the time it takes to develop new treatments.”

NHS patient and UK Biobank participant, Philip Green, said:

"The launch of the Clinical Practice Research Datalink is a great step forward. It’s really important to develop ways of harnessing and utilising the information in the NHS to improve and enhance care. The appropriate pooling of data, utilisation and linking of records and coordination of clinical trials can make this a reality that patients can play a full part in."

Notes to Editor

1. The MHRA has for 12 years been a key part of the current research scene as it has managed the GPRD into a globally valuable research asset. The MHRA also made a major contribution to the original UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) report and to the subsequent NIHR Research Capability Programme (RCP) pilot has clearly shown the availability of more population based data and more linked data will have a large beneficial effect on both observational and interventional research. Some of these new uses directly relate to the regulatory work of the MHRA on medicines, devices and other treatments. Specifically, the MHRA will be able to initiate new surveillance methodologies helping all parties, including pharma companies, meet the public health needs of knowing about real world safety, effectiveness and the benefit-risk relationship.

Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) (external link)

2. The UK government’s Plan for Growth states that the life sciences and social care sectors employ huge numbers of people across a wide skills range. The NHS itself is a huge purchase which in turn supports a number of supplier business and staff in the UK. Moreover, the sector is a huge investor in research and development. The potential benefits to the UK economy and the health of the nation as a result of a thriving healthcare and life sciences sector are clear. Further information can be found on the Department of Health website:

The Government plan for a secure data service: strengthening the international competitiveness of UK life sciences research (external link)

3. The Plan for Growth, published in March 2011, is a ‘call to action’ detailing the steps the Government will take to enable the British economy to become more internationally competitive.

The Plan for Growth (external link)

Government sets out new Plan for Growth (external link)

4. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe. No product is risk-free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks. We keep watch over medicines and devices, and take any necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem. We encourage everyone – the public and healthcare professionals as well as the industry – to tell us about any problems with a medicine or medical device, so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.
Page last modified: 29 March 2012