A leading cancer trial specialist warns that over-complexity of trials could be delaying the process by which successful drugs reach patients. Professor Richard Gray, Director of the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham, voiced his concerns at the European Society for Medical Oncology conference. He called for a move towards simpler and more direct planning and organisation of trials.
Currently, trials involve a great demand on patients to undergo extra investigations and attend follow-up hospital visits. This in turn results in more form-filling and data collection by medical staff. Dr Gray commented on the unnecessary desire to derive as much data as possible from patients and their treatments. He said: "Ironically, this desire to get as much detail as possible makes the study less informative because it puts off doctors and patients whose involvement is so crucial. The additional workload drives up costs and delays the availability of results."
Professor Sir Richard Peto, of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund's Oxford unit, agreed "The quicker a clinical trial is completed, the sooner potential new treatments for cancer patients will be made available, giving more patients a greater chance of living longer." He added "Of course there should never be any compromise on patient safety or scientific value, but less complex trials make sense."