Today Novartis celebrates International Clinical Trial Day which is recognised around the world as the day James Lind conducted the first randomised clinical trial aboard a ship on May 20, 1747. It also provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of clinical trials in the UK and to recognise the incredible, hard work that many clinical research professionals conduct on a daily basis.
Clinical trials are fundamental to the development of new medicines and help to enhance the quality of, or prolong, life whilst progressing scientific understanding of disease mechanisms and essentially enabling earlier access for patients to new, innovative medicines offering them great hope. Clinical research can also provide a vital ‘life-line’ and an alternative treatment approach for many patients. At Novartis we continue to use science-based innovation to address some of society's most challenging healthcare issues. This is a rigorous process that takes on average 12 years to develop a new medicine and includes the necessary trials conducted to thoroughly test a medicine’s safety and efficacy profile, i.e. how well the medicine works for patients.
Through our research, which currently includes over 760 studies globally, advances for many diseases have been made possible, giving people around the world alternative and improved treatment options. In the UK, we have around 100 actively ongoing trials in oncology and approximately 200 across other therapeutic areas. In 2016 we had over 3,000 UK patients taking part in clinical trials.
Recently a Novartis clinical trial patient with heart failure was asked ‘why do you think clinical trials are important?’ His response to this was ‘if pharmaceutical companies didn’t carry out trials nothing would move forward, there would be no progress. The pharmaceutical companies need the patients to participate in trials and patients need pharmaceutical companies to produce the medicines.’
Further to this, we pride ourselves on the transparency of our clinical study information and their results on our dedicated website, www.novartisclinicaltrials.com .
However, there is much work that needs to be done to achieve the UK’s ambition of making the country a leader in science in the wake of Brexit. To continue bringing major clinical trial investment issues of cost, administration, low performance and lack of reimbursement of some ‘standard of care’ medicines in England need to be addressed, and we will continue working closely with the Government and regulatory bodies to do so. Brexit offers us all the opportunity to work together to improve this situation and make the UK an attractive place for clinical trial research.
To commemorate International Clinical Trials Day 2017, I will be hosting an event to provide employees with an update in the Novartis trials currently being run in the UK. We are also pleased to welcome a patient who suffers from a rare disease who took part in a Novartis trial to share their experience with the company.
I am proud that Novartis is such a significant investor of clinical trials in the UK, which offers great hope to patients. Healthcare is on a wave of extraordinary innovations in medicine that is curing and treating diseases at rates not seen before. This is hugely important for patients who have the opportunity to try potential new treatments for their disease, but also for the NHS, which makes significant savings by running these trials. I personally want to express my thanks to all who are involved with clinical trials for the fantastic work you do!