Blood cancers

Cancer is top focus of Australian clinical trials

Cancer continues to be the most common focus of clinical trials in Australia, with latest figures showing that it accounted for 18% of studies over the last decade.

In its latest report, the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry notes there have been 1870 clinical trials studying cancer conditions in the period 2006 and 2015, making it the most frequently investigated health issue ahead of mental health (12%) and cardiovascular conditions (10%).

However the report also shows that cancer accounted for a dwindling proportion of all clinical trials, whereas mental health research increased from about 5% to 15%  of all clinical trial over the last 10 years.

There were 244 clinical trials in cancer in 2015, involving 72,000 participants, the report shows.

Clinical trials assessed multiple interventions, most commonly drugs (47%) but the proportion of trial investigating drug therapies fell steadily from 57% in 2006 to 42% in 2015. Other interventions studied in clinical trials included medical devices (10%), surgery (4%) and preventive strategies (11%).

There was a decline in the proportion of clinical trials supported by industry funding from 46% in 2006 to 37% in 2015. However, industry continued to dominate overall funding of clinical trials, accounting for $930 million of the $1.1 billion spent every year on trials in Australia.

Government funding of $164 million was the second major source of funding for clinical trials. The proportion of non-commercial, non-government funding of trials had increased rapidly in recent years and now represented 60% of new trial registrations.

The report noted that Australia fared well in international comparisons, with over 10,000 clinical trials conducted and more than 5 million participants enrolled in the last decade, equivalent to than 1,000 trials and 500,000 participants each year.

“By conducting clinical trials in this country we enable Australians to access the best available health care options by capitalising on effective and efficient therapies, reducing research waste and maximising value for money from the health care dollars invested,” concluded report author Professor John Simes, a Sydney-based oncologist and director of the ANZCTR, and co-author Professor Lisa Askie, manager of the ANZCTR and head of the of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney.

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