A new drug goes through a series of stages before it becomes available on pharmacies shelves. It all begins in the laboratory where researchers come up with new ways of using known chemicals to treat diseases. They test their ideas first on animals like rats and guinea pigs to see whether these prototypical drugs can work. Most studies are abandoned at this stage if they don't show any positive effects on animals. Only drugs with a promising future proceed to further stages of study until the researchers arrive at a substance that can be administered to humans.
However, before any new drugs are allowed into the market, thorough tests must be done to show how effective they are and to find out whether they have any potential side-effects. This is the stage of clinical trials. Pharmaceutical companies require large numbers of volunteers to take part in clinical trials but recruiting these patients is often an uphill task. Many things could go wrong if a company fails to do proper patient recruitment. Faced with the challenges inherent in medical recruitment, companies can either hire the services of professional patient recruiters or turn to unethical patient recruitment strategies. Nonetheless, some of the agencies hired to recruit patients on behalf of pharmaceutical firms also resort to using improper recruitment strategies.
Using shortcuts in patient recruitment for a clinical trial can have devastating consequences. For example, recruiters have been known to target illiterate or desperate patients who are likely to sign up for trials without asking too many questions. Recruiting such people may seem easier but it's very wrong because they are signing up without adequate information. In other cases, recruiters are so eager to enlist patients that they either lie to them or conceal important information that would have made some patients think twice about volunteering for the trial. Such medical recruitment strategies may yield adequate numbers of volunteers but trouble will start when things don't work out as expected and patients begin to question the manner in which the exercise was conducted. To encourage more volunteers to sign up for a trial, a recruiter may, for example, refrain from saying could that the drug could have adverse side-effects. When these side-effects start manifesting, patients will be concerned and may start opting out of the trial in fear. A trial will have to be shelved if enough people pull out.
Clinical trials are very costly affairs and hence patient recruitment should be done well. Indeed a company risks losing a lot of money if it uses poor recruitment strategies. If patients pull out halfway through the study the company will lose all the money it had already spent up to that point and it will spend even more to recruit new patients so as to resume the trial. Delays occasioned by problems with recruitment are also very expensive. Pharmaceutical companies face competition from rival firms; each hopes to outpace the others in launching new products into the market. When a company is bogged down with a clinical trial its competitor could beat it to the market and grab itself a huge share of the market.
Using bad patient recruitment strategies can injure a company's reputation. The public is very unforgiving to drug companies accused of wrongdoing in the name of making money. Aggrieved patients could bring hefty lawsuits against the company for taking unfair advantage of them.
At the end of the day, pharmaceutical companies and their recruiting agents should not shy away from using sound medical recruitment strategies even if it costs a little more time and money.
For more information about patient recruitment please visit http://www.clinicallistamerica.com/clinical-trial-patient-recruitment.php