Africa’s large population and the increasing prevalence of Western diseases have begun to attract pharmas and contract research organisations (CRO), with Quintiles viewing it as the next non-traditional market, and this necessitates improved infrastructure.
One aspect of this is spreading information about clinical trials and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) endorsement of PACTR will further this effort in Africa.
Following this data collected by PACTR will be put into the global WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). This will enable users to search for African clinical trials that are in planning, ongoing or have been completed.
PACTR is the first clinical trial registry from the continent to be endorsed by the WHO and Nandi Siegfried, co-director of South African Cochrane Centre (SACC), hopes it will now “become the first choice for African trial registration”.
SACC coordinates PACTR, with funding from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), and in June initiated a shift in the registry’s operations.
Before this the registry covered HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria but it has now been expanded to cater for clinical trials in all therapeutic areas. Researchers that register trials with PACTR will meet international requirements for transparency.
The presence of this information on the WHO’s registry should reduce the amount of funding and manpower that is wasted performing duplicate trials and consequently benefit research in Africa.
Challenges of Africa
The infrastructure in Africa presents researchers with a different set of problems and results in “serious underreporting of clinical trials”, according to EDCTP that considered this when establishing PACTR.
EDCTP says that limited, unreliable and costly access to the internet means many African collaborators in multi-country trials request that partners on other continents register the study.
Consequently EDCTP allows users to register trials for free on PACTR online or by email, post or fax. Providing these options is intended to make it cheap and easy to register clinical trials in Africa.