The future of clinical trials

A webinar held in the United States by Pharmaphorum, in collaboration with INC Research, looked into the future of clinical trials. Those who attended the webinar discussed ways of increasing the focus on patients and improving recruitment and retention rates of patients participating in the trials.

Patient centricity

Speakers at the webinar talked about putting patients at the forefront of clinical trials, rather than research professionals, who sometimes tend to forget about the welfare of patients in their search for new medical breakthroughs. According to an article in Pharma Times, advances in technology mean that clinical trials are set to be more connected, streamlined and engaged with patients, but the industry needs to embrace changes if new developments are to be successful.

The US CSDD (Center for the Study of Drug Development) reports that less than 40 per cent of clinical trials manage to fulfil their targets for enrolment. The organisation says that over 35 per cent of trials do not manage to recruit sufficient numbers of participants, while over 10 per cent of trials are unable to enrol even a single participant. They cite lack of awareness of trials among patient groups, along with a focus on the researchers, rather than the participants, as key reasons for their lack of success.

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In both the US and the UK there are opportunities for healthy people to participate in paid research studies through organisations such as http://www.trials4us.co.uk/, but finding patients who are willing, and able, to take part in specific health-related studies is more of a struggle.

New technology

The webinar looked into ways in which digital technology could improve the uptake of respondents, and create a more productive experience for patients participating in trials. For example, DrugDev provides each patient with a dedicated electronic hub, allowing patients to easily access information relating to their particular study. Webinar participants looked at ways of incorporating new technology into every stage of the trials process, from creating awareness to education and support tools, including patient engagement portals.

There have also been calls for research studies to actively recruit patients from ethnic and racial minorities, who are traditionally under-represented in such trials. More focus is needed on ensuring that patients are made fully aware of the trials available to them, and supporting them through the trials process, to benefit patients and researchers alike.

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