The Ontario government is into the clinical business more competitively – and Western is on board as the only Canadian university.
Clinical Trials Ontario (CTO) is an independent not-for-profit organization mandated to provide a streamlined approach to conducting multi-centre clinical trials in the province, while maintaining the highest ethical standards for participant protection.
Along with Western, others who have been accredited through CTO’s Research Ethics Review System include Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, the Ontario Cancer Research Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Health Sciences – all located in Toronto.
Dan Sinai, associate vice-president (research) at Western, said receiving CTO accreditation validates the university’s position as one of the leaders in the field of clinical trials and speaks to excellence of how Western continues to foster research excellence across campus.
“Western has significant experience conducting clinical trials, and we wanted to get in on the ground floor with CTO as a means of expanding our capacity,” Sinai said. “Overall, though, it means our ethics processes have been evaluated to be of excellent quality, and that we have the people and systems in place to support large-scale clinical trial business.”
CTO looks to make Ontario a preferred location for global clinical trials through three strategic pillars:
· Improve speed and reduce the costs of multi-centre clinical trials by streamlining the research ethics approval process to a single review in Ontario and harmonizing other administrative processes and platforms;
· Leverage strategic partnerships with investigators, industry and government to gain access to global decision makers for clinical trials and attract clinical trial investment to Ontario based on Clinical Trials Ontario’s success; and
· Engage patients and the public to recognize the benefits of clinical trials for their own health and that of their families and society and to improve participant recruitment through education.
Sinai said CTO’s initial research areas surrounding oncology, arthritis, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and mental health, among others, are great matches for the current research being conducted at Western.
He adds being part of CTO, the university benefits from bringing more partners and research funding to campus, allowing Western to “showcase our abilities as a one of Canada’s important research universities.”
“It is a feather in our cap, and one way we are able to carry-out and support research that has impact,” Sinai said. “Naturally, there are different ways of having impact, particularly if you look at fundamental and applied research, or other discipline-specific measures, but it’s important we continue to put into place the mechanisms that help our researchers to be successful.”
RESEARCH ON TRIAL
• More than 4,311 clinical trials are underway in Ontario at any given time with more than 811 clinical trials newly registered in 2013;
• Ontario has 681 clinical trial sites, placing it on par with other jurisdictions that are showing rapid growth in trial activity;
• In 2012 alone, pharmaceutical companies spent more than $250 million on clinical trials in Ontario; and
• Canada is one of the top three countries in terms of cost of clinical trials administration, and has an almost 270 cost advantage over the United States, according to a KPMG survey of 21 countries.