Report Urges Fixes for Cancer Clinical Trials System

Lays out goals including faster trial setup, improved compensation for patients, physicians

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. cancer clinical trials system is in great need of an overhaul so that it can continue to support large-scale, multi-institutional clinical trials that result in gains in cancer treatment, according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The report calls for an increase in funding for the Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program, as well as reductions in complicated government oversight. It provides steps to improve efficiency, create incentives for health care providers to participate in trials, and boost patient participation.

In addition, the report outlines four goals for the program: cutting down the time it takes to set up a clinical trial; making better use of scientific innovation -- such as biomarkers that can more quickly predict a tumor's response to a drug; improving clinical trial selection; and better compensating patients and physicians for their participation in clinical trials so they are motivated to take part.

"If the clinical trials system does not improve its efficiency and effectiveness, the introduction of new treatments for cancer will be delayed and patient lives will be lost unnecessarily," the authors of the report write. "The implementation of the IOM's collective recommendations will reinvigorate the NCI Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program and strengthen its position as a critical component of the translational pathway from scientific discovery to improved treatment outcomes for patients with cancer."

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