BETHESDA, MD: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced an initiative that will provide cancer centers with approximately $6 million to enact new approaches for increasing patient participation in early-stage clinical trials. It is a collaborative effort of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), which is in partnership with Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, and Novartis.
"The goal is to increase the percentage of newly diagnosed cancer patients who participate in Phase I and II clinical trials to very successful levels, like those in pediatric cancer trials, said Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., director for NCI.
Early phases of trials are used to test the safety of drugs, and to determine the best way to administer them. The organizations behind the initiative plan to educate the public on why the trials are important, in hopes that it will increase participation rates.
A letter issued by NCI was sent to cancer centers with specific details on the grant program. Those who wish to participate are asked to submit their proposals for how they plan to educate the public on the importance of early-stage clinical trials. "Specific methods of communication are yet to be determined because that will come from the proposals, said Ellen Sigal, Ph.D., chairman of Friends of Cancer Research. "But there is likely to be community outreach at churches, town halls, hospitals, as well as directly to physician and nurse groups."
The receipt date for proposals from cancer centers is set for September 24.