Patients - Vital to Drug Development

Patients - Vital to Drug Development

04.17.12 | By

I recently worked with the American Cancer Society and some local biotech executives on the launch of a new report - Research in Your Backyard: Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Oregon. We all agreed that this report was a good start, but that more needed to be done to solve the largest challenge facing clinical trials today: educating patients about the importance of participation.

Without adequate enrollment in the tests, drug development slows down and patients have to wait longer for novel, sometimes life-saving medicines to become available. Up to seven years of clinical testing in a 10-to-15-year drug development process are required to help prove that a new drug is safe and effective. Without this evidence, the Food and Drug Administration cannot approve any new treatments.

And yet, for patients, the decision to participate in trials can leave their heads spinning! The fact is, there are potentially both risks and benefits to being involved in a clinical trial and it is not a decision to be made lightly.

What is especially troubling, however, is the number of patients who don't know about the availability of clinical trials of new medicines in their communities and states or who won't consider tests because of their fears, which could be assuaged if they had more information.

That's why it is vitally important that more patients learn and understand the benefits and risks to trial participation in consultation with their physicians.

To be transparent, I should note that this is not a casual thing to me. As a hairy cell leukemia survivor who was saved by a wildly successful chemotherapy more than a decade ago, my sincere thanks go out to everyone who participated in the trials of my treatment. They played a crucial role in making it possible for me to receive effective therapy, and I applaud their brave efforts to help themselves and other patients like me.

We need more patients to follow in their footsteps. To weigh the benefits of trials - such as obtaining expert medical care at leading health facilities - against the risks, patients and their caregivers can find out about trials that may suit them by accessing www.clinicaltrials.gov, PhRMA's Clinical Research and Trials Resources page and Center Watch.

Have you ever considered participating in a clinical trial?

More On PhRMA — powered by PhRMApedia