How clinical trials inform new treatment options for patients

Thursday 20 May 2021

World Clinical Trials Day seeks to recognise the doctors, nurses and scientists who conduct clinical trials and thank them for the significant impact they have on improving public health for generations to come.

This day also provides the community with a unique opportunity to raise awareness of what is involved in running and participating in clinical trials, how important they are to inform new medications and clinical practice, and how patients can get involved.

Dr Yoon-Kyo An is a Gastroenterologist at Mater Hospital who is the clinical lead of the inflammatory bowel disease clinical trials unit.

“The clinical trials team conducts studies assessing the efficacy of various medications to treat inflammation conditions of the gut including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, pouchitis and eosinophilic oesophagitis,” Yoon said.

“There are a limited number of medications on the government Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for patients with IBD so we always try to keep clinical trials in mind when we first begin treating a patient to keep all of our options open.”

Yoon explained the process of having a medication or therapy approved by the Australian Therapeutic Good Association and being accepted by the PBS was a long and highly regulated process that could take years of work to reach and all approved therapies have previously gone through the process of clinical trials.

“Some people are hesitant to participate in a clinical trial due to concern about receiving placebo, or that it may not be safe. We carefully select the studies we conduct at our site choosing the medical therapy that will benefit the patients the most with the most favourable safety profile,” Yoon said.

“Some studies do have placebo but it is important to understand that generally patients with active disease after placebo will receive the trial medication. Safety and efficacy are carefully monitored in clinical trials by the expert team at the Mater, and a global monitoring committee.

“Every medication that is currently approved for IBD was once part of a clinical trial, it was through the generosity of patients who have participated in these trials that we have been able to recommend new medications and therapies for our current patients.

“The Mater has one of the largest IBD clinical trials unit in Australia. We have a dedicated and hard-working team of experts who are striving to address the current treatment gaps for our patients.”


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