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Thanks to New Zealand clinical trial patients

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Sunday May 20, marks International Clinical Trials Day and the chance to say thank you to New Zealand clinical trial patients around the country.

Clinical Trials Day is celebrated around the world to recognise the day that surgeon James Lind started what is often considered the first randomised clinical trial aboard the Royal Navy ship HMS Salisbury on May 20, 1747.

Patrolling the English Channel, the ship’s seamen were often struck down and killed by scurvy.

Acting on a hunch that scurvy was caused by putrefaction of the body that could be cured through the introduction of acids; James Lind’s trial of the causes of scurvy consisted of just 12 affected men, grouped into pairs and given a variety of dietary supplements from cider to oranges and lemons. The trial only lasted six days but within that time, there was a noticeable improvement in the group eating fruit, providing Lind with evidence of the link between citrus fruits and scurvy.

MSD New Zealand Director, Paul Smith says, "We should all be thankful for the foresight of James Lind and today we should be grateful to the hundreds of patient volunteers who participate in New Zealand clinical trials every year. They are our partners in research and help us find better treatments for others in the future. Without clinical trial patients, new medical treatments could not be developed. "Clinical trial patients often receive earlier access to innovative pharmaceuticals which are not publicly funded in New Zealand. And all clinical trial patients receive the ‘international standard of care’ medicines even if they are not available locally.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand CEO, Graeme Woodside, says "The Prostate Foundation support a variety of prostate cancer research projects including studies related to diagnosis, treatment and support. One of the challenges faced by patients is inequity of access to trials due to ethnicity or location. These barriers must be minimised so that New Zealand can take full advantage of research opportunities which ultimately lead to better health outcomes."

Paul Smith says, "Developing a medicine is expensive and time consuming, on average it takes 12 years to develop one drug. MSD is one of the few pharmaceutical companies undertaking clinical trials in New Zealand and our research programmes include trials in oncology, diabetes, neuroscience, heart failure, respiratory, HIV, vaccines and Hepatitis C.

"Locally we have 39 clinical trials treating hundreds of patients. And of these, 29 are cancer studies. These trials provide free access to treatment for patients with prostate, melanoma, lung, bladder, solid tumours, gastric, breast, blood and head and neck cancer.

"MSD invests approximately $NZ45 million in local clinical research however more trial participants are needed. Under-enrollment in trials is one of the greatest challenges clinical researchers face.

"Ultimately, choosing to participate in a clinical trial is a very personal decision for patients, but one which can significantly benefit both individual patients and society."

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