Rising drug-development costs and pressing needs to advance drugs quickly are pushing global pharmaceutical companies to look for emerging markets to conduct clinical trials.
Compared to other countries and regions, the Middle East is viewed as an emerging hub for clinical research due to easy accessibility to infrastructure, patient base, rapid timelines, and reduced costs. And a recent piece by Center Watch News seems to confirm these opportunities: As of October 11, 2011, there were 4,957 trials in 15 countries across the region. This equals 4.3% of all of all trials around the globe - even with the volatile political climate that is prevalent in the region.
According to the article, currently only 0.4% of trial participants come from the Middle East. With a population of 280 million
"[the] Middle East has the size and potential of Eastern Europe, which contributes 15 to 20% of global patients"But, at the same time as opportunities would seem to abound, the volatile nature of the region is a concern to sponsors and clinical researchers. But even civil unrest may yet turn into an advantage for researchers:
More than half of respondents agreed with the statement that "Political instability and social unrest will set back R&D in the region in the short term, but boost it in the medium term" (included in A new era for R&D in the Middle East, a study conducted by The Economist).
With all this opportunity and uncertainty, it will be interesting to see whether or not the Middle East will emerge as a future focal point of the clinical trials industry.
[Thanks to Partnerships in Clinical Trials' Twitter feed for the tip!]
For more on Middle Eastern linguistic, cultural, and regulatory issues, take a look at the following:
- Working with numbers in Arabic translations
- Adapting Patient Recruitment to Global Cultures
- Medical device regulations in Israel
- Saudi Food & Drug Authority publishes roadmap to eCTD
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