US drug giant Pfizer has joined the growing list of organisations seeking to boost trial recruitment via the web, teaming up with IT firm Private Access to create a website designed to “increase clinical trial awareness and participation.”
The new site, which will be launched later this year, will use Private Access’ “privacy enhanced” search engine technology to allow patients to control access to personal health information they upload.
Pfizer said that: “By granting private access only focussed on conditions that interest them, patients can be more quickly matched to appropriate clinical trials while simultaneously protecting the confidential health information.”
The firm also said the partnership recognizes the need to increase awareness of available trials, quoting a recent finding that nearly 85 per cent of patients questioned did not know that “clinical trials were a possible treatment option.”
Company’s chief medical officer Freda Lewis-Hall said that: “Many patients who could benefit from participation in clinical trials don’t enrol in them because they are not aware that potentially relevant research is under way.”
Boost recruitment online
Greg Simon, Pfizer’s senior vice president for worldwide policy, said that by merging patient privacy with access to actionable information the “[new website] has the potential to accelerate medical progress.”
Robert Shelton, Private Acess’ CEO, also stressed the site’s recruitment benefits, highlighting the contradiction that while the internet has connected people like never before “it still takes months or years and often thousands of dollars to locate individuals for clinical trials.”
“By introducing technology that honours each patient’s privacy needs, we can leverage the efficiency of Internet-based search for clinical trial patients – speeding up the recruitment process and the discovery of new treatments,” Shelton added.
The website's focus on patients differs from the approach taken by CenterWatch's partnership with TrialX. Under that deal, announced yesterday, CenterWatch has granted TrialX access to its list of current clinical programmes for distribution via the latter firm's suite of web 2.0 solutions.