Confused by clinical trials?

Posted on October 31, 2011 by

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The Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology (POST) have just produced one of their fab postnotes focused on clinical trials. If you want to get your head around what they are and why we’re talking about them in four pages, it’s worth a read.

It’s a great summary of what clinical trials are and why we do them. It focuses on why the number of clinical trials taking place in the UK has reduced over recent years

between 2002 and 2006, the UK’s global share of patients in trials fell from 6% to 2-3%

exploring how global trends and the environment in the UK might be effecting this. And it summarises some of the steps afoot to reform the regulation of clinical trials and try and turn some of these trends around – in the UK this includes the plans to establish the Health Research Authority as a single regulator of health research across the UK working closely alongside the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which regulates clinical trials (see the discussions of the health bill for the latest on this). And it looks at the ongoing revision of the EU Clinical Trials Directive which governs the regulation of clinical trials right across the EU. This is currently being revised, we’re expecting a the European Commission to publish a legislative proposal setting out planned revisions to the directive next year (more background here)

And it finishes up with a section focused on future challenges for clinical trials including the fact that trials may not reflect the responses of real patients i.e. those trialing new treatments often don’t include some of those who will ultimately be treated such as children and the elderly, who may react differently.

And new sorts of medicines such as personalised treatments – treatments tailored to you based on the genetic nature of your disease  – might require new sorts of trials.

Posted in: Policy