How about insurance in research for clinical trials participants?

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Esther Nakkazi
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net


How about some of the funds raised for clinical trials being used for insurance, were the thoughts of some delegates at the high-level European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) II conference in Cape Town on 5 November.

Modest Mulenga, the Director, Disease Research Centre, Zambia said the ethics committees in Africa have been strengthened to conduct fairly ethical clinical trials but participants were not insured.

So far, under EDCTP-I, the first African Regional Networks of Excellence for clinical trials was launched while National Regulatory Authorities was also established and ethics review capacities in many African countries were strengthened.

The Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) as an African initiative funded by EDCTP, which is now officially recognised as a WHO Primary Clinical Trials Registry was also established in EDCTP I.

“We can not go on pretending, participants in clinical trials should not only be protected ethically but even against any harm because this is research-it may or may not work,” said Mulenga.

The feeling by some scientists at the EDCPT II conference was that Insurance companies should come on board to look out for and protect clinical trials participants.

However, they stressed that insurance of participants in trials should especially be done by drug companies since they do product testing.

Partners like EDCTP would never agree to use their resources for insurance assured Thomas Nyirenda of EDCTP.

If funding partners were to insure participants it would mean that most of the money raised would be probably go to compensation. For instance, with a grant of 200 million Euros, if a clinical trial caused any harm, all these funds would be spent on compensation.

“Pharmaceutical companies should insure the participants and I think in most cases it is provided for but Africans researchers overlook it,” said Nyirenda.

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