How UK clinical trials are funded

Trials are expensive to run because these things need to be paid for:
  • treatments, procedures and tests
  • research staff to run the trial and collect the data
  • staff and computer technology to analyse the results
  • administrative costs – paperwork, overseeing the protocol, data collection and production of results
  • the cost of extra tests or hospital stays for patients taking part


Many charities in the UK fund cancer research.  Cancer Research UK is the single largest funder of cancer research in the UK.
Some charities fund UK research into treatment for specific cancers. For example:
  • Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research
  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer
  • The Brain Tumour Charity
  • Myeloma UK
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation


The Government currently funds health research through organisations such as:
They also help to coordinate cancer research nationally through the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI).
The money for tests and costs of hospital stays often comes from the government.
The NHS covers the costs of trials that are part of the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network's portfolio of clinical trials.

Drug companies

Drug (pharmaceutical) companies fund a large amount of cancer research in the UK. Companies run their own trials looking at drugs they have developed.  They also sometimes give a grant or supply the drug free of charge for trials run by other organisations.
If a drug company is running the trial, they have to pay the hospital for the costs of tests and patient stays.

International organisations

Some trials that run in the UK are funded by organisations from other countries, including:
  • The European Organisation for Research and Treatment for Cancer (EORTC)
  • An American organisation called the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • Breast International Group (BIG)

Related information


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Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

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