Tag Archives: medication

Commercial clinical trials : How do we get health professionals interested?

(This is a guest post by Gemma Borland on behalf of the Heart of England Hub of the Mental Health Research Network)

drugs etc

Do your patient’s receive the best possible treatment? How do you know?

Every day in clinical practice medications are used, but do you know how these medications have been developed and would you want to be involved when the products of the future are being tested?
Pharmaceutical companies sponsor clinical trials to research new medications.  Potentially, these trials may lead to the  development of  more effective drugs.

The importance of this research cannot be underestimated, finding medications with fewer side effects, which are easier to take, impact less on someone’s life and manage someone’s condition better, can improve a service user’s quality of life dramatically. The need to continually strive towards the best treatments available in the NHS is paramount.

Equally important is the need for new medications to be tested in the NHS and on the UK’s patient populations.

Clinical research studies

Since I became involved in setting up clinical research studies 5 years ago, I have worked with dedicated clinicians and nurses, passionate about the importance of commercial research having seen the benefits that access to cutting edge treatments can bring to their patients. However, there is a real need to increase commercial trial activity within the NHS.

Industry trials are often seen as complex, with onerous Sponsor requirements and a lack of understanding as to what the work entails. For Health Professionals who have not yet been involved in commercial clinical trials, the work can seem a daunting avenue to pursue. This is the challenge facing the Mental Health Research Network, a national initiative to support mental health clinical research in the NHS.  We need to identify how we get individuals involved in commercial research and look at the issues which may prevent people working on commercial trials.

Mental Health research Network

The Heart of England Hub of the Mental Health Research Network is currently piloting a project to develop and run a mentoring programme, tailored at supporting nurses, clinicians and other professionals, working on commercial studies for the first time. The programme will provide an experienced mentor with whom study teams can access for advice and guidance whilst working on a commercial trial, as well as training and information to help people better understand commercial trial work.

With this additional support, we are hoping to expand the number of clinicians, nurses and other health professionals working on commercial studies in the Midlands, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of commercial trials running across the region.

We want your comments, i.e. what are your opinions on commercial clinicial trials, would you get involved? If not, why not?

For further information on the mentoring programme contact : gemmaborland@nhs.net

Drug addiction?

Flickr click image
Photo by taiyofj : Flickr click image

There have been many discussions on over reliance/ dependence on medication over the years. Personally, I do think that both public and professionals rely too much on pill popping. I certainly feel a degree of sympathy for GP’s who have a few minutes to decide on someone’s illness and treatment plan. The prescription of a drug is likely to work so this becomes a ‘default’ option (and my apologies to any GP’s reading this.  I am aware that this is very simplistic but it does illustrate a point that is true for all professionals. And patients…well, when I see a health professional I will admit to feeling comforted by popping a pill. After all, a pill means that my illness is treatable doesn’t it?


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Medicine (photo KB35 on Flickr : Click image)

But hang on. If this deeply held belief that pills cure illness is flawed, then what is even more flawed is the idea that medication even treats mental illness. Lets look at depression. Depression involves the lowered state of serotonin and so all anti-depressants work by increasing levels of this neurotransmitter through one means or another. But aren’t we missing the point? By increasing serotonin levels all we are doing is dealing with the symptoms of an illness, not the illness itself. Schizophrenia treatment is exactly the same but here it is reducing the elevated dopamine.

My point – we are not dealing with illness eradication, rather we focus exclusively on symptom suppression. But this is the nature of mental health problems. It would be foolish to think that a little tablet taken twice a day will be a panacea for all our ills – unfortunately though, this is exactly what people think.