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Experts Urge Fixes for Clinical Trials System in 'Crisis'
Date:4/15/2010

ed the process by which experimental drugs can be used, alone or together, without sacrificing patient safety.

The third goal involves identifying and supporting those trials that have the greatest chance of success and making sure they make it through to completion. "There are a number of ways we can centralize credentialing and improve [participant] enrollment approaches," Mendelsohn said.

Finally, the report pointed out that both patients and physicians need to be better compensated for their participation in clinical trials so they'll be motivated to participate.

One idea: make sure that public and private health plans cover the full expense to patients of participating in a clinical trial. "Patients are sometimes turning down trials because they're worried they won't be reimbursed for care, whereas if they took the standard therapy that might not work as well, they can be sure it will be paid for," Mendelsohn explained. "The new health-care bill includes provisions for [covering] the non-experimental care in a clinical trial."

Weiner added: "It's a big challenge. There are a lot of competing constituencies and a lot of competing priorities. It is a difficult river to navigate but every one of the stakeholders wants to do what's right for people who suffer from cancer and that can be highly motivating. [But] I don't think it's a matter of reshuffling processes to be more efficient. This is going to require a decision by society that clinical trials are important."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on the cooperative trials program.



SOURCES: John Mendelsohn, M.D., president, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Louis M. Weiner, M.D., director, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Wash
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