U.K. National Health Service Offers Patient Records for Research

Annamarie Dillon | October 22, 2012

As reported in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, starting in September 2012 individuals who have been enrolled in the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) system will have the option of having their health records reviewed for inclusion in research projects. This could mean that approximately 52 million people could become research participants by registering their anonymized records into the NH's Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) (http://www.cprd.com/intro.asp). Observational databases like these have long been an important part of disease research, and can dramatically increase new research outputs.

Through an agreement between the NHS National Institute for Health Research and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, researchers who have registered and been vetted by the scientific advisory committee will be able to access pertinent information to further their studies. Information gleaned from the CPRD must be used solely for medical research, with published papers made readily available to the public. The U.K. government sees this as a viable revenue stream, with the potential of charging £50,000 to £100,000 (approximately $80,000 to $160,000 in U.S. dollars, per late 2012 exchange rates) per study. They also hope that it will entice pharmaceutical and biotech companies to view the U.K. as a welcoming and feasible place to conduct medical research.

Certainly an interesting and intriguing topic—so be sure to read more about it at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/28/nhs-patient-records-medical-research-revolution

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