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Most Americans would not enroll in clinical trials over concerns they would experience side effects, encounter higher costs, or receive a placebo instead of an actual medicine, according to a new survey.

Specifically, only 35 percent say they were likely to participate in a study and, overall, just 40 percent have a positive view of clinical trials, according to the survey released on Monday and conducted by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, a leading hospital based in New York that also conducts hundreds of clinical trials.


The results underscore the difficulties that confront policy makers, pharmaceutical companies, and health care providers as they seek to develop and deliver new treatments. And if this sort of reluctance to participate in trials continues, there is concern there will be a research and discovery “crisis,” according to Paul Sabbatini, the deputy physician-in-chief for clinical research at MSK.

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  • The patient pool has drastically shrunk. It was easier to recruit patients when there were 40 million uninsured. People have all kinds of reasons free medical care for one. Also we cannot do competitive enrollment ethically speaking. There was nothing in it for the PI but a winning study nurse could get an all expense paid trip to a scientific meeting. I ran trials for 30 years, and despite patients’ understanding that the drug may not benefit them directly they recognized that it could benefit society at large. Today we live in a “me world”; altruism is dead. But if anyone is earnest about clinical trial participation there is a Phase 4 study ongoing of a new antidepressant called Ablixa. Consult with the Principal Investigator, Dr Law for details.

  • There are two issues: awareness and education. All parties involved in research, including sponsors, CROs, researchers, physicians and the government must do a better job of making people aware of clinical trials and educating them about the benefits of participating in trials. One place to start is making more useful for patients because it is currently an embarrassment. It should be integrated with EHRs also to drive awareness and access. Low participation rates in clinical trials are a major factor why the development process takes so long. We must do better because the current situation is not sustainable and patients should not have to wait so long for new treatments and cures.

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