Africa Clinical Research Management (ACE Research) is a full-service contract research organization (CRO) headquartered in Kenya, Nairobi, specializing in clinical trials in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The company recently announced a strategic partnership with Seattle, WA-headquartered DF/Net Research (DF/Net), a clinical trial data management, analytics, and software development services provider.
Through this agreement, the companies will expand their service offerings and geographic coverage – at a time when the demand for clinical research in Africa is steadily growing, said Amos Ndhere, MD, MS, chief medical officer, ACE Research.
According to a report published by McKinsey, the pharmaceutical market in Africa is predicted to be worth up to $65bn by 2020.
In line with this, Ndhere said the number of regulated-sponsored and investigator-initiated clinical trials – especially Phase II-IV vaccine studies – have doubled in the past five years. “In 2014, there were just about 4,000 clinical trials registered in ClinicalTrials.gov. Today, more than 8,500 trials have been registered,” he said.
While this has primarily been driven by the work of non-profit organizations and academic institutions, Ndhere said the company is seeing more global pharmaceutical companies and CROs offshore clinical development to Africa.
“As this growth happen, there will be increased demand for Africa-specific evidence of efficacy of the current licensed and future new therapies,” he added. “This may exert pressure on pharmaceutical organizations to produce local data to demonstrate clinical evidence of their clinical products in Africa population.”
Additionally, Ndhere said Africa is seeing more vaccine, drug, and observational research clinical trials from the industry, academia, as well as government institutions, such as Center for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the US Army.
“Recent unprecedented Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa and ongoing outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has heightened demand for clinical research for development of medical countermeasures to the virus,” he explained.
Ndhere also cited the competitive cost of clinical trials in the Africa region, “improving infrastructure, such as railroads and new health care facilities, and favorable public health research policies by respective African countries,” as among the drivers of increasing demand.
The regulatory landscape also has been improving, he said, with the widespread adoption of ICH Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines.
“In addition, research involving non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, and oncology are emerging in Africa,” added Ndhere. In response, hospitals are developing cancer registries and cohorts of cardiovascular conditions, he explained.
Per the McKinsey report, Africa added 70,000 new hospital beds, 16,000 doctors, and 60,000 nurses between 2005 and 2012. This, as the continent’s population experiences what McKinsey described as a massive shift. Per the report, two-fifths of economic growth by 2025 will come from 30 cities of two million people or more, of which 22 of will have a gross domestic product (GDP) over $20bn.