New Report: Clinical Research Drives Health Forward
Over the past several decades, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have made advances to their health systems and have increased patient access to health care, ultimately improving the health status of their populations. Despite these efforts, the region continues to face substantial and diverse health challenges. In part, these may be due to limited investment in clinical trials and weak intellectual property protection policies.
A new Health Forward analysis shows increased investment in clinical trials – one of the first steps in the lifecycle of medicine – can help expedite clinical development for new treatments. In addition to accelerating the drug development process, clinical trials can foster economic growth and advance medical research infrastructure, helping physicians and scientists in the region gain the expertise necessary to become leaders in their fields.
Currently, the intensity of clinical research throughout the MENA region lags behind emerging global leaders. Singapore, for example, conducted more than 388 clinical trials per million population between 2000 and 2017. In comparison, Lebanon – a leader in clinical trials in MENA – conducted just over 77 clinical trials per million population in the same timeframe. And, although the MENA region has the fastest growing incidence of cancer in the world, the number of clinical trials on oncological medicines in several countries remains low.
Connections can be drawn between the limited biopharmaceutical innovation in the MENA region and the lack of pro-innovation policies. Without the protections of strong, modern intellectual property policies, researchers may not have the ability to explore new areas of medical innovation or discover innovative treatments. Conversely, countries with effective IP protection and enforcement see higher levels of clinical research, greater partnership with biopharmaceutical companies and improved access to medicines.
In order to develop new treatments, provide greater access to life-saving treatments and improve patient health outcomes, countries in the MENA region should both look to make greater investments in clinical research and enforce effective intellectual property protections.