Clinical Trials: The Canadian advantage

Posted on June 10, 2016

The Canadian Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre (CCTCC) hosted a panel session during the 2016 BIO International Convention this week in San Francisco. The CCTCC is a unique partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Innovative Medicines Canada, and HealthcareCAN to improve the environment for clinical trials investment in Canada.

The “Clinical Trials – The Canadian Advantage” session featured experts from the pharmaceutical sector, biotech, a contract research organization and academia.

The benefits of clinical trials are broad and undeniable. These trials often represent the very earliest access to innovative and life-saving therapies for patients and the economic advantages gained by these investments are far-reaching. However, to reap these benefits, Canada must stand out globally. Competitiveness in quality, timeliness, and costs comes into play when global companies decide in which country to place trials.

We quickly learned through this session that Canada is amongst the best in the world in terms of quality of clinical trial sites and investigators. We are more economical than the US and the UK, and we are making progress in decreasing trial start-up times by streamlining processes. Last June, for example, the CCTCC launched the Canadian Clinical Trials Asset Map (CCTAM). This online database allows global decision makers to quickly search for experts in a specific therapeutic area across the entire country and within seconds have a report of Canada’s capacity to conduct a specific trial.

Clinical Trials Help Save Lives

With such strengths in Canada, why are we not doing better?

It is clear that we need to park our humble nature and arm our pharmaceutical companies with data and training to credibly pitch Canada’s strengths abroad. We need to continue to bring together federal and provincial governments, research sites, and industry to collaborate on data collection, sharing operational best practices and improving marketing efforts. A Pan-Canadian organization such as the CCTCC is absolutely essential if we are to set ourselves apart on the world stage.

Other markets are fighting for the same investments. We must be proactive to continually improve our position globally or get left behind.

Canadian patients deserve the opportunity and hope that comes with innovative treatments being available to them through clinical trials. Collaboration and coordination of all of the Canadian stakeholders is imperative to make this happen.

Alison Sargent

Alison is the Executive Director of Innovative Medicines Canada’s Health Research Foundation.

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