Report: U.S. cancer trials are in a state of crisis

The system used to conduct cancer clinical trials in the U.S. is "approaching a state of crisis," with waste and inefficiency creating difficulties for those wanting to undertake these studies, an Institute of Medicine report has found.

The National Cancer Institute supports a network of clinical studies. The largest component of this group is the Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program. For 50 years, the program has played a key role in testing promising therapies. And while it has made many important discoveries over the years, multiple layers of oversight have made the system "inefficient and cumbersome." According to the IOM's report, the average time it takes to design, approve and activate a clinical trial is two years, and only half of the trials undertaken are completed.

"Stagnant and declining funding, inefficient processes, extensive and complex government oversight, and a lack of resources," have contributed to the program's difficulties in translating research into "timely clinical applications," according to the report. Recognizing that there is a problem, NCI Director John Niederhuber asked the IOM to come up with recommendations to improve the system.

IOM says the following goals should guide the improvements to the current system: Enhancing the speed and efficiency of the design, launch, and conduct of clinical trials; making optimal use of scientific innovations; improving selection, prioritization, support, and completion of clinical trials; and fostering expanded participation of both patients and physicians.  

- here is a link to the report
- see Bloomberg's coverage