Saturday, 20 November 2010

DEATH OF BRITISH MEDICAL RESEARCH

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As principal investigator of 2 multicentre international studies in my hospital, I am obliged to do an online course that consists of 6 two hour sessions.  I suspect that the Trust pays a lot of money to the company Epigeum for the licence . The course is called Good Clinical Practice and outlines the rules and arrangements that have to be in place in the UK, before a research project is allowed to take place.  The list is long and bewildering .
How anyone does any research in the UK mystifies me. Interestingly many of the rules originate in Europe and I would bet my bottom dollar that many of these rules are not strictly adhered to in other European countries as they are in the UK. The tragedy of it all is that the infrastructure required to maintain such a complex set of rules sucks a lot of the resources that are rightfully invested in R&D . The net effect - far less research done for a lot more money. Research regulators will argue that all these rules are there to protect participants. No-one will argue that patients need protection from possible harm but the pendulum has swung too far. How on earth will the UK ever compete with the new emerging economies of China, India and others? In the cardiothoracic literature the number of published papers coming out of chinese institutions has increased over the past 3 years.  I have reviewed many of the papers myself and I have been very impressed with the standard of English - much better in fact than papers from Japan.  Over the past 12 months I have also received many emails informing me of dozens of new glossy Indian medical publications. It is inevitable that as in economics, the centre of gravity in the research world is swinging eastward  (or beyond these shores at least)