Facebook used to find trial volunteers

Pharma firms are asking healthcare PR agencies to be more innovative as the industry faces a dearth of clinical trial recruits.

Patients are being encouraged to trial drugs
Patients are being encouraged to trial drugs

Drug companies are increasingly turning online to Facebook and blogs to promote the benefits of being involved in drug trials and to reach a wider section of the population.

A Datamonitor report has found that 90 per cent of trials are delayed, with the majority attributed to patient recruitment problems.

The problems are attributed to the public perception of the clinical trial process and the pharma industry as a whole being largely negative.

'It is consistently difficult to recruit for trials because awareness is low. Pharma firms aren't doing enough to really push for basic education,' said clinical trial recruitment specialist, MMG president and CEO, John Benbrook.

'We are constantly looking for innovative ways to communicate with possible participants. Facebook and blogs are useful tools.'

Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA) suggested that healthcare professionals should be more involved in spreading the word.

'Key to education is ensuring that healthcare professionals are equipped to talk about trial participation with appropriate patients,' said CCA's Brand Techtonics team leader Lynette van Heerden.

AstraZeneca global head of R&D comms, Thom Sueta, said educating people about the importance of medical research and what it has contributed to society was key to taking away the fear and stigma associated with drug trials.

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