“The population of the MENA region at its least extent is about 381 million people, about 6% of the total world population, while the percentage of clinical trials conducted in the MENA region is about 0.5%”, with this words, Dr. Marwan Janahi, the Director of Dubiotech Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park, he and other colleagues opened the recent meeting that focused on obstacles behind the development of clinical trials share of the MENA region within the world. This meeting gathered stakeholders and decision makers of diverse professional origins: Pharmaceutical industry, institutions, CRO’s, regulatory bodies, supply chain, universities and freelancers. Participants discussed challenges facing the development of this emerging market.
National regulations, institutional infrastructure for research, training and political instability were among the obstacles identified by the speakers. Miriam Zalzala from Pfizer presented the different challenges against the expansion of this market, she explained the steps taken by the pharmaceutical industry sponsors for the selection of clinical trials site, and pointed out the criteria of the good clinical trials site.
Rania Bader, a freelancer from Jordan expressed worries about the situation in Jordan, while the infrastructure at all level is built, that is the regulatory framework, the high quality physicians and institutions and the presence of the clinical trials law, the Jordanian share of clinical trials is decreasing the recent years, she suggested a multi level strategy whereby all stakeholders should sit together and discuss the situation to come up with adapted solutions. The creation of a coordinating body at the national level was another suggestion that was welcome by most of the participants.
The subject of supply chain was covered extensively by Marie Madeleine Sader, the CEO of the Lebanese company CD LOG, Sader talked about the quality of supply chain management; she also described how should the good supply chain provider be. Sader ended her talk by showing why do we need a supply chain management system. From another side, Melanie Rolli, the Head of Medical Affairs at Novartis talked about globalization in clinical research, its ethics and benefits. She pointed out that clinical trials should be a “win-win” relationship among all stakeholders and the data have to be transferrable.
Amid Abu Hmaidan, the Director of cancer registry at King Hussein Cancer Center in Jordan, suggested the use of hospital cancer registry data for long term follow up clinical trials. He also gave another presentation on behalf of Dr. Henry Silverman, the MERETI Program at the Maryland University in which he showed several scientific studies that were conducted in the MENA region for evaluation of research ethics committees, their composition, challenges that they face and the financial support they have, other studies were about the quality of informed consent. He also presented the new self assessment tool for research ethics committee that was developed by Dr. Silverman et al. Amid ended the second presentation by introducing the training offered by the MERETI program and some contact information.
The meeting concluded on the importance on training and better communication as the best and most urgent axes to work on so that the share of the MENA region of global clinical trials become more important.