Thursday, September 20, 2007

An example of the need for clinical research

I came across an interesting blog today ( by someone affected by DMD (Duchene Muscular Dystrophy). To summarise, it reflected on the process of an eye exam and the desire that going to a doctor to find the right treatment for a medical condition was as easy. It made a couple of interesting points:

"Clinical trials are not synonymous with treatment; rather clinical trials provide the vehicle for us to understand IF a certain strategy provides benefit and characterize exactly what ‘benefit’ means. "

I agree with the latter statement in that clinical trials help us understand the efficacy, safety and potential benefits against risk of a particular treatment. I think perhaps the first half of the statement is a little limiting however. There is not a treatment that is approved that has not undergone clinical trialling, so by default, clinical trials are synonomous with treatment. What we perhaps need to be reminded of is that not every treatment assessed by clinical trials will result in an approved treatment. This can be for many reasons. But it is important that this research is conducted in order to establish what works and what doesn't, and for that to happen, there needs to be willing participants.

I think the blogger summed up the problem very nicely with this: "I wish it was as simple as an eye exam – invest money in a strategy and you get an answer. The real fact is that the only way to accelerate the development of treatments is to invest in a comprehensive plan to accelerate research, develop a system to identify patients, collect specific data, organize clinical trials in the context of an international clinical trial network and pursue an aggressive legislative agenda to insure successful treatments can be delivered to all individuals and accessed over a lifetime."

Hear, hear!

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