Data From Clinical Trials Identify Gaps In Health R&D

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By Brittany Ngo for Intellectual Property Watch

Lower-income countries receive much less attention in terms of clinical trial research, according to a study published in this month’s World Health Organization (WHO) Bulletin. The study also underscored the value and importance the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) provides as a resource for evaluating the distribution of clinical trials around the world, and for providing information for future policy on health R&D.

The study [pdf ] used clinical trial data to identify gaps in global health research and development (R&D). Authors of the study sought to analyse where and how clinical trials were being conducted, and for which diseases. They hoped to gain a clearer understanding of the “global landscape” of health R&D, using data from the ICTRP.

The results showed a disproportionate amount of clinical trials dedicated to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in higher income countries.

For every million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) caused by communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions; noncommunicable diseases; or injuries, the ICTRP database contained an estimated 7.4, 52.4 and 6.0 trials in which these causes of burden of disease were being investigated, respectively (out of a total 2,381 records of trials examined in the study).

Regarding the distribution of trials based on wealth of countries, the study found that high-income countries had an estimated 292.7 registered trials compared with 13.4 in upper-middle-income, 3.0 in lower-middle-income, and 0.8 in low-income countries.

Brittany Ngo is currently completing her Master’s in Health Policy and Global Health at the Yale School of Public Health and previously obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Georgetown University. Through her studies she has developed an interest in health-related intellectual property issues. She is a summer intern at Intellectual Property Watch.

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