A Future for Clinical Trials in Canada

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announcing a renewed partnership between the Government of Canada and Rx&D

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announcing a renewed partnership between the Government of Canada and Rx&D

Over the past few years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has looked into ways to

increase clinical research in Canada and help bring new medical solutions to patients quickly. This means working with public and private industries and both federal and provincial levels of government. Everyone is included in the decision-making process, from pharmacists and patients to research companies and regulatory bodies.

Rx&D, a leading association of pharmaceutical research and development companies, is one of the sources for funding in Canada. They spend over a $1 Billion in research and development dollars annually, as part of their commitment made in 1987 to pay in about 10% of their sales towards new innovation. Because of their important role in bringing new drugs and treatments to patients, Rx&D is considered a partner of the Canadian government.

At the moment, about 75% of research investment in Canada goes into clinical trials. Funding comes from associations like Rx&D, but also from abroad. In order to sustain this incoming flow of investment, Canada needs to keep its research infrastructure updated so as to maintain world-class levels of pharmaceutical quality assurance and quality control. In an effort to lure international pharmaceutical companies to do their trials in Canada, Rx&D is urging the government to extend the lifespan of Canadian pharmaceutical patents so they can last as long as in some other countries.

But clinical trials in Canada are not competing only against other countries. At a national level, they are also trying to attract investments and favorable government policies in the face of a strong public demand for price controls and generic drug options. It seems that the future of clinical research funding lies in a compromise that would deliver the best results to all involved.

What does this mean from an employment perspective? The Pharmaceutical industry is very vast, with jobs ranging from a pharmacist technician or a sales representative.  The constant innovation in pharmaceutical research helps give companies a competitive edge, so there will always be laboratory pharmaceutical research jobs, and a high demand for skills like HPLC training.

What do you think? What’s the best way to assure affordable drugs and high levels of investment in clinical research in Canada?