Clinical Trials

The promotion of Greece as a hub for a broad range of clinical studies is a priority for SFEE. Through specific recommendations and calls for action in line with the European best practices, SFEE seeks to unlock this strong growth potential, which remains untapped due an obsolete system of complicated approval procedures

Clinical research can give fresh impetus and momentum both to public health and to economic growth in Greece

The success of the effort to place Greece on the global map of growth, spearheaded by pharmaceutical industry, crucially hinges on the ability to establish the country as a major centre for clinical trials. Developing the clinical research sector and highlighting its role in the welfare state and the economy is a key priority for SFEE and its member companies. A common objective of SFEE and its member companies is to make our country a hub for clinical studies with a worldwide scope, which will help to revitalise and boost both public health and the national economy.

Greece has the capacity and the credentials to become a hub for clinical trials. Our estimates, which are based on the strategy followed by other countries with similar capacities, show that investment in clinical trials could soon reach EUR 400 million annually. This is so because Greece’s health infrastructure and, importantly, its highly-qualified human resources offer strong competitive advantages.

However, the official statistics, until 2012 at least, show that “we do not speed up”. The main reasons relate to the legislative framework governing all levels of approval – in particular delays in the initiation and implementation of clinical trials – and a lack of a stable macroeconomic environment.

The multiple benefits of clinical research

The benefits of clinical research are multiple and accrue to:

Patients:

• early access to new treatments, especially for life threatening diseases;

• better treatment of a wide range of conditions;

• more therapeutic options;

• improved life expectancy;

• better quality of life.

Healthcare professionals:

• new medicines in the therapeutic arsenal;

• ability to choose the appropriate treatment for each case;

• answers to specific medical questions

• deeper knowledge and understanding of various diseases

• more experience in the treatment of various diseases

the National Health System:

• transfer of research know-how

• better management skills and equipment

• inflow of revenue (15% of the clinical trial budget goes to hospitals and 5% goes to the special accounts for R&D funds of Regional Health Authorities) particularly to meet internship and residency needs.

the national economy:

• significant capital inflows to Greece

• possibility of investment in healthcare structures

• higher employment and job creation, utilisation of scientific staff in specialised fields

researchers:

• higher validity of publications

• promotion of Greek researchers and their teams

• international cooperation and extroversion

• more funding for basic, translational and independent academic research and related infrastructures (research laboratories and centres of excellence)

• revenue for universities’ Special Accounts for Research Funds (ELKE) of Universities

• additional income for researchers and prevention of brain drain

“Why doesn’t Greece speed up?”

With a new institutional framework, and given the willingness of pharmaceutical companies and the stated intention of the authorities to encourage investment in research in Greece, the question “Why doesn’t Greece speed up?” remains crucial and urgently needs an answer which will be of major importance for the country. It is a national priority to find solutions. What is needed is the close cooperation of all stakeholders for working out consensus solutions which will enable the country to tap its potential and establish itself as a reliable European partner.

The topic of clinical trials was the focus of an event entitled “Clinical trials in Greece: Why don’t we speed up?held by SFEE at the Auditorium of the National School of Public Health to mark the International Clinical Trials’ Day on 22 May 2014. The event presented the results of a survey and discussed the prospects of development of clinical trials, the removal of barriers, as well as ways to resolve technical issues that in the past have caused delays in this area. For further information, please see the relevant Press Release.