Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clinical trials: research vs marketing

So its not just what the clinical trials are about but also who is running them and who is paying for them that is important as well as why they are running the trials.

The article uses an example of a Jenny Craig weight loss trial as their example but the point is true for any clinical trial. For many companies a clinical trial is important if it can get into one of the peer reviewed magazines where they trial gets a great deal of credibility in the medical/scientific world.

A peer reviewed magazine has stringent requirements for including articles. They must not be marketing. They must not be sales. They must be scientifically or medically based and show a significant result. The articles are reviewed previous to publication by a 'peer' who is on the article's staff or is a consultant. What is a peer? If the article is for the medical world, meaning for doctors, then a doctor will review the article first. Same is true if it is for chemists or physicists, it will be reviewed by a 'peer'. This means that the magazine's content has met both its submission requirement but that a 'peer' has reviewed it and agrees. This ensures the continued credibility of the magazine.

So if a clinical trial gets into one of the 'peer reviewed' magazines, then it certainly must show something important. This is a goal for many companies so they do research trials that meet the guidelines to show the benefits of their product and get their article into one of the credible journals.

We have all seen this in the news 'The JAMA has published the results of this new trial showing a breakthrough in treatment...' We get all excited and run to our doctors to ask about it and the doctors say 'more research needs to be done'. We say 'WHAT'??? That's because a good doctor often wants at least two trials to say the same thing before they change their treatment protocol for the average patient who is responding to treatment and still has approved options available. There are exceptions to this in the case of early stage clinical trials for people who are running out of options.

Another issue is that an early stage clinical trial may be reported that is no where near the human trials stage - also known as the mouse tests where it will be several more years before trials will involve humans. But the publicity is there building premanufacturing awareness for a product and more credibility for the company.

Do I make sense? Manufacturers use clinical trials as marketing tools to build their credibility and allow them to maintain or increase their market share.


Lauren said...

I recently saw a documentary film that I thought, based on your blog, you might be interested. It’s called “In the Family,” and it’s about breast cancer and the BRAC gene mutation.

Here’s a link to a clip from the movie:

I love that teams all over the United States are donning pink laces (or, in the case of the NFL, pink everythings!!) for Breast Cancer. This kind of awareness seems unprecedented and truly inspirational.

Anonymous said...

I would like to suggest 2 resources for your readers who are interested in finding out more about clinical trials. (Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation) is a non-profit organization focused on educating and informing the public about clinical research participation. CISCRP is not involved in recruiting patients for clinical trials nor is it involved in conducting clinical trials.

Another helpful resource is the book: The Gift of Participation: A Guide to Making Informed Decisions About Volunteering for a Clinical Trial (author Kenneth Getz).

Anonymous said...

Another resource: On Nov 6th - National AWARE for All webcast. Here is the link for details on this free public education program:

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