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Pressure group floats idea of government-backed clinical trial awareness campaign

By Staff reporter , 29-Oct-2015

Pressure group floats idea of gov-backed trial awareness campaign

The Coalition for Clinical Trials Awareness (CCTA) has called for a federally-supported public health campaign to make people more aware of drug research and the value of participating in studies. 

CCTA sees such a campaign as a way to increase participation in clinical trials. Part of the problem as it stands, in the view of CCTA, is the lack of understanding about clinical trials among the general public, something it thinks the government is in a position to correct. 

A federally-supported public health awareness campaign will educate the public about what clinical trials are and how they make possible new medical breakthroughs,” Dr. David Charles, chairman of the CCTA steering committee, told Outsourcing-Pharma.

The campaign envisaged by Charles and his collaborators would go beyond basic education about clinical trials. Efforts to change public perceptions about clinical trials, notably by encouraging people to see participation as an altruistic act, are part of the blueprint for the initiative.

With a better understanding of clinical trials and a heightened appreciation for their value to society, citizens will be more open to clinical trials opportunities when they arise and more apt to pursue such opportunities themselves,” Charles said.

The challenge for CCTA is to convince lawmakers of the importance of such a campaign. A pair of influential politicians, Republican Chris Collins and Democrat Diana DeGette, attended a half-day conference to discuss the importance of raising awareness.

CCTA thinks lawmakers are receptive to the idea. “We are very optimistic,” Charles said. “Recent legislative work on the 21st Century Cures Act shows that policymakers recognise the importance of medical innovation in improving the health of our nation.”

Historical precedent

CCTA is drawing on historical precedent to support its argument. By the early 1980s, researchers had advanced the science of organ transplants to the point at which the risk-benefit ratio of the surgery was favourable. The resulting increase in demand for transplants exposed a shortage of organs.

To close the gap between supply and demand, the United States government began a campaign with the slogan “Share Your Life. Share Your Decision”. Within two years of the campaign starting, the number of registered organ donors had increased by 22%. Today, nearly half of Americans are registered organ donors.

CCTA thinks clinical trials today, which it sees as being held back by a lack of public understanding of research and its value to society, are comparable to organ donation in the 1990s. A “Share Your Life. Share Your Decision”-style campaign could be one way to increase the participation rate above the current level of 10%. 

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