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Universities lose money from ‘unfair’ rules on clinical trials

Universities and hospitals are making a loss every time they carry out European Commission-funded clinical trials, according to a report for the League of European Research Universities.

The report, Clinical trials and Horizon 2020, says that universities lose out because Commission rules do not allow full-cost recovery for hospitals and clinics taking part in Framework-funded clinical trials. Hospitals and clinics are only allowed to claim 75 per cent of direct costs and 65 per cent of indirect costs.

Member states’ national health systems and universities are having to subsidise the costs of EU clinical trials, “which is neither acceptable nor sustainable”, said the report’s main author Carole Meads, a senior contracts negotiator at Imperial College London, one of LERU’s member universities.

Meads recommends that the rules for clinical trials be amended so that all partners in clinical trials can obtain their full costs. “While it is essential that this problem be rectified before Horizon 2020 begins, LERU would welcome a resolution to be applied during the rest of FP7,” she says in the report.

Hospitals and clinics, will normally participate only if they receive all of their costs, and that is forcing universities to shoulder their additional costs, adds Meads. “The current rules mean that [universities] are actively subsidising hospitals and clinics to participate in EU clinical trials; this is neither acceptable nor fair.”

The report was published on 25 July.