Advances in Medical Research Not Possible Without Patients Who Volunteer to Participate in Clinical Trials

If You Take a Prescription Medicine, You Have Clinical Trial Volunteers to Thank

05.20.14 | By Stephanie Fischer

While today is International Clinical Trials Day, at PhRMA we recognize the groundbreaking advances in medicine made possible by clinical trials and the critical contribution of the patients who volunteer in clinical trials every day.

We also recognize the need to raise awareness of the importance of clinical trials in order to increase participation by patients as well as healthy volunteers.  As the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research recently noted, “85 percent of all studies face delays and 30 percent never get off the ground due to a lack of clinical research volunteers. Slow patient enrollment diminishes the scientific power of studies, drives costs up and, most notably, delays improved therapies for patients.”  The Foundation website features testimonials of clinical trial volunteers and a video explaining the critical role they play in the development of new treatments.

Clinical Trial Participants are Medical Heroes 

By volunteering to participate in a clinical trial, patients take an active role in their health and help further scientific knowledge that may help future patients. The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research and Participation (CISCRP) is planning a museum exhibit to thank these “medical heroes” and to educate the public about the importance of clinical research. 

A key aspect of the exhibit will be clinical trial participants who can discuss their experience. According to CISCRP, 95% of people who participated in a clinical trial would consider volunteering in another clinical research study in the future. 

Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials

It’s important for individuals of varied races, ethnicities, ages, gender and sexual orientation to participate in clinical trials.  According to the Food and Drug Administration, increased diversity in clinical trials could help researchers find better ways to fight diseases that disproportionately impact certain populations, and may be important for the safe and effective use of new therapies.

However, ethnically and racially diverse audiences are currently underrepresented in clinical trials. Despite comprising 12 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans make up only 5 percent of clinical trial participants. Hispanics represent 16 percent of the U.S. population, but only 1 percent of clinical trial participants.

Earlier this year, PhRMA joined with the National Minority Quality Forum to launch I’m In, a patient-centered, community-focused national campaign designed to improve health by increasing participation in clinical trials, especially among underrepresented patient populations. 

If we can encourage patients to visit the campaign website at www.JoinImIn.org and use the information to begin a dialogue with their physicians about whether or not a clinical trial may be the right choice for them, we’ve taken a major step forward.

It will require the commitment of all of us to make a difference in increasing awareness and participation in clinical trials.  It is a commitment upon which continued medical progress depends.

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