Patient records to be made more available in U.K.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron used this week's launch of the Strategy for U.K. Life Sciences to discuss federal government efforts to accelerate the development of biomedical innovations.

This included an announcement of a three-year-long 180 million pound (210 million euro) program to support commercialization of new products by life sciences companies and academia. Anonymized data of National Health Service (NHS) Trust patients will also be released and published online starting in December.

Cameron said that his government is going to consult on changing the NHS constitution so that the default setting is for patients' data to be used for research. Patients have the option to opt out of making their data available.

"We've seen how powerful the release of data can be. This data is real world evidence that scientists have been crying out for and we're determined to deliver it," Cameron said. He referenced an existing Institute of Psychiatry database registry with an enrollment of approximately 250,000 patients that is being used for dementia researchers.

Cameron was adamant that individual patient identity privacy would be maintained.

The new funding program is part of a package of measures to drive growth in the life sciences sector of the U.K. economy. The Biomedical Catalyst fund will provide support and drive the development of innovative life sciences products and services. It will be jointly managed by the Technology Strategy Board and the Medical Research Council.

The Biomedical Catalyst fund will link to existing Medical Research Council translation programs and Technology Strategy Board activities to provide a well-publicized, simple funding scheme, with rigorous scientific, clinical, and commercial tests. The funding scheme is intended to give credibility and visibility to help academia and companies accelerate the process of innovative product development to commercialization.

The key focus will be on regenerative medicine, stratified healthcare, and emerging medical technologies, according to a statement made by the Technology Strategy Board.

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