Clinical trials, key to developing new drugs and valuable for the economy and cost savings health


Each new drug that reaches patients has one behind or, in general, several successful clinical trials. The clinical trial, which in the vast majority of cases (eight out of ten in Spain) is driven by the pharmaceutical industry, represents the final stage of this complex, prolonged and risky background race that involves the R & D of the new medication, which begins when it identifies a promising first compound, in the preclinical stage, and ends 10-12 years later, when, if all went well, the new drug is made available to patients.

Even with the high risk of failure (only one in 10,000 investigated molecules becomes an approved medicine), the entire path of biomedical R & D, and especially the clinical trial, represents a collective and multidisciplinary effort that barely it is comparable with any other action that is carried out today in developed societies.

The clinical trial is one of the best examples of how joining forces with the same goal, which is to achieve new drugs to improve the health of people, sectors and very diverse agents are able to generate a virtuous dynamic that benefits the whole of society, although these benefits are, at times, little known.

Thus, researchers from different fields, health professionals (and especially doctors), managers of health and research centers, responsible for health administrations, professionals of pharmaceutical companies and members of patient organizations have their role in the clinical research of new treatments, and all of them are coparticipants of the collective success that the generation of new scientific knowledge and new therapies entails for the benefit of patients.

But the enormous contributions to the health of the new treatments, which in days like this May 20, World Clinical Trial Day, are generally the most well-known aspect of pharmaceutical innovation, should not eclipse other benefits that for the economy and The productive tissue and R & D of the countries have clinical trials. As noted by John Corea, vice president of Phrma, the association of the innovative pharmaceutical industry in the United States, “clinical trials promoted by the pharmaceutical industry are not only vital to develop new treatments for patients, but also play an important role in the time to promote the economic development of the communities where they are developed “.

The American business association itself recently released a report that reveals how the investment that companies make in clinical trials translates into three times more economic activity. Specifically, the study highlights how the 15,000 million dollars invested by pharmaceutical companies in clinical trials in the United States in 2017 had an overall positive economic impact (summing the indirect economic effects) of about 43,000 million, almost triple.

The figure, which starts from the analysis of the 4,500 clinical trials promoted by the industry in the United States, in which one million patients participated, refers only to direct investments in the centers where clinical trials are carried out, not including those related to design of the trials, data analysis, coordination between different agents or the enormous efforts made in preclinical research (in vitro experimentation and animal models), so that there is no doubt that, counting all the variables, the effect of Generation of wealth would be much greater.

Another key economic effect, which contributes to the increase in the care resources that hospitals make available to their patients, is the cost savings that clinical trials promoted by the pharmaceutical industry generate in the health centers where they are developed. A good example of this reality, also little known outside of the healthcare field, are the clinical trials conducted in Spain.

Thus, in the last 10 years several studies have been published, mostly prepared by the pharmacy services of the hospitals themselves, which reflect this reality and quantify the cost avoided for the center by conducting clinical trials in their facilities. Specifically, they calculate the economic amount of the drugs that the patients included in the trials should have received according to the protocol and that the hospital did not have to pay, since it is the promoter of the trial (a pharmaceutical company in more than 80% of the cases) that finances both those treatments and the investigational drugs. The studies do not include the concomitant medication or other expenses associated with the treatment (personnel, material, etc.), which are also borne by the trial promoter and which increase the pot

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