Report claims media hamper research

Media portrayals cause confusion, fear

Lifesaving medicines needed by some 60 million Americans result directly from the 50,000-plus clinical trials conducted annually in the United States. These trials depend on a rapidly increasing pool of volunteers to confirm the safety and efficacy of new therapeutics and procedures.

Nearly 2.8 million Americans voluntarily participated in clinical trials in 1999. Now, a white paper released at the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) meeting in San Francisco claims that negative portrayals of clinical research in the media are causing Americans to turn their backs on the opportunity to participate in research studies.

The white paper includes the results of the 2001 ACRP survey in which more than 700 of the association’s members identified both positive and negative attitudes shaped by the media. Less than 33% of respondents felt that the media are fair in their portrayal of the clinical research industry. Less then 50% felt that the media provide a "good public service" when reporting on clinical research. And more than 75% agreed that "media reporting about clinical research has created confusion and fear among the public."

"Although there are isolated instances of investigator fraud or financial conflicts improperly influencing investigators, those instances are the exception rather than the rule," argues James W. Maloy, PharmD, the study’s lead author. "The media concentrate on the exceptions, the negatives, rarely on the positives. I’m afraid that the media treatment of the industry is resulting in more people becoming unwilling to volunteer for clinical trials."

Statistics reported in the white paper confirm that a growing number of studies may not be able to go forward without a dramatic increase in the ranks of willing clinical trial participants. More information on the white paper is available at www.acrpnet.org