‘Improving Clinical Trials’ Report in the News

On Wednesday Health Select Committee released the report, ‘Inquiry into improving New Zealand’s environment to support innovation through clinical trials’. Mainstream and specialist media outlets have reported on the inquiry findings, providing commentary and analysis on the committees recommendations.

As well as providing a comprehensive review and strategy for the future, the report lays out several clear targets, including:  streamlining the ethical review process, promotion of intra-government collaboration, developing a national action plan to foster innovation and creating a clinical trials framework through DHBs.

The Health Select Committee advised that the recommendations be acted on within 12 months.

You can read the report in full here and expert commentary on the report, gathered by the Science Media Centre, is available here.

The report was covered by mainstream outlets and also received coverage in medical and pharmacy specialist news sources, including:

National Business Review: NZ falling behind Australia in lucrative drug-testing field

Dominion Post: Clinical trials revamp could have $250m spinoff

NZ Doctor: NZ health research back in the starter blocks

Pharma Times: Act quickly to reboot CT environment, says New Zealand committee

Pharmacy Today: Build bridges with drug Co.s, but protect Pharmac – Govt

Chair of the Health Select Committee, Dr Paul Hutchison, also wrote an opinion article for the Dominion Post, laying out the case for an overhaul of the current clinical trials system in New Zealand.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Clinical trials key to a third arm for export earnings

New Zealand has lost its advantage as a good place to do clinical trials that could deliver economic gains – and keep our best and brightest here.

Victoria University adjunct professor Shaun Holt has argued “our ethics system has become so unwieldy, it is unethical, the process has grown into a hugely complicated bureaucracy that has lost touch with its original aims”. Others have pointed out a lack of co- ordination between New Zealand’s district health boards, friction between pharmaceutical companies and Pharmac and a lack of investment in science research and development.

I believe the main elements can be put right at almost no cost, and the returns for patients, retention of staff, the health service, and the economy will be significant.

Clinical trials test the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, functional foods, bioactives and biologics. We were told that, given ideal circumstances, New Zealand could lift its revenue from trials from approximately $40 million to $300 million annually by 2020…

…Our report includes mechanisms to improve the efficiency of the ethics review process, but we agreed unequivocally that the rigour of the ethics-approved process regarding patient safety should remain paramount. We are extremely conscious of lessons learned from the Cartwright, Gisborne and Greenlane inquiries.

It is apparent there is huge untapped potential for innovation and intellectual property that comes through New Zealand’s public and private health systems.