Tuesday, May 19, 2009

International Clinical Trials Day

Tomorrow, May 20, is International Clinical Trials Day.

This annual event was established by the European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network, a group formed to help interconnect national networks of clinical research centers across the European Union and to help streamline multi-national studies.

ECRIN launched the International Clinical Trials Day in 2005 to educate the public about clinical trials and to further discussion amongst various interested parties, including clinicians, industry sponsors, ethics committees, regulatory agencies, and patients.

May 20th was selected as the appropriate date for this celebration in honor of James Lind who in 1747 conducted a six-way comparison of cider, elixir of vitriol, vinegar, sea water, oranges and lemons, and a purgative mixture of spices, garlic and mustard seeds on sailors suffering from scurvy. Each treatment group had 2 men. Within 6 days, the two men receiving citrus fruits were well--such a dramatic improvement compared to the other groups that it made the statistical analysis unnecessary. His descriptive treatise was published in 1753 and makes for interesting reading.

When less than 5% of patients with cancer participate in clinical trials, it is clear that a bit more outreach still needs to be done, to educate physicians and patients—and insurance companies, who often have archaic rules that preclude participation. The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is trying to do its part and launched its open access clinical trials journal, also on May 20th.

Some other efforts are not quite as supportive. It probably doesn’t help when a mascot is proposed, “Clint,” the clinical trials guinea pig …nor when a celebration includes discussion of heart-warming topics like “inspections.”

What would you suggest as an enticing celebratory event? How do you encourage participation in, and support of clinical trials?