You may consider yourself a clinical research virtuoso. However, some of these little-known clinical trial facts about the history of the industry might still surprise you.
1. The first reference to a clinical trial is recorded in the Book of Daniel in the Bible.
King Nebuchadnezzar II ordered his people to eat and drink only meat wine, a diet he believed would keep them fit. But several who preferred a vegetarian diet refused the king’s decree. The king, his curiosity piqued, permitted the dissenters to instead follow a diet of legumes and water – but only for 10 days, after which he would assess their health. When the experiment ended, the king saw that those who ate the diet of beans and water were fitter than those who ate the diet of meat and wine, so he allowed them to continue their chosen diet.
2. The first physician-conducted clinical trial was in 1747.
In 1747, Dr. James Lind tested several scurvy treatments on crew members of the British naval ship Salisbury and discovered that lemons and oranges were the most effective in treating the condition. Lind is considered the first physician to have conducted a controlled clinical trial of the modern era. May 20 is known as International Clinical Trials Day, because Lind’s celebrated controlled trial began on that day in 1747.
3. Clinical trials have become 13.52% more expensive in the last few decades.
Today, the cost of developing a successful medicine can exceed, according to some studies, $2.6 billion, compared to $179 million in the 1970s. The increase in cost is due to the advancement of technology and with technological breakthroughs, the entire global pharmaceutical market is projected to reach approximately $1.43 trillion by 2020.
4. Aspirin is older than you may think.
One of the first drugs to come into common use is aspirin. It is still one of the most researched drugs in the world, with an estimated 700 to 1,000 clinical trials conducted each year. Aspirin’s use can be traced back to when the Sumerians and Egyptians used Willow as a medicine circa 3000 BC. Aspirin was termed such in 1899 by Bayer and has been researched heavily ever since.
5. The first genetically engineered drug hit markets in 1982.
The FDA approved the world’s first genetically engineered drug, human insulin (Humulin), in 1982. The drug was developed by Eli Lilly & Company and Genentech. It was made by inserting human genes responsible for insulin production into E. Coli bacteria, thus stimulating the bacteria to synthesize insulin.
6. There’s hope for everyone when medicines are approved.
In the past 10 years alone, 293 medicines have been approved that offer new hope to patients with hard-to-treat diseases. The introduction of these medicines offer two main benefits to society: physical and mental well-being improvement, and hospitalization reduction.
7. Developments for the future.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) aims to deliver 16 to 18 new treatments by 2023, (of which six are already available) for leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, pediatric HIV, filarial diseases, mycetoma, and hepatitis C. DNDi is also deploying global policy advocacy efforts to focus on the creation of a global fund for innovations in the importance of public health.
8. Cancer is not a four letter word anymore.
Clinical trials have improved childhood cancer survival. Childhood cancer survival rates have risen from less than 10 percent in the 1950s to over 80 percent in recent years, due in part to clinical trials. Clinical trials have also been improving the method of cancer research, making it more personal and tailored to treat each individual instead of the disease as a whole.
9. The placebo’s effect.
The word “placebo” first appeared in medical literature in the early 1800s. Hooper’s Medical Dictionary of 1811 defined it as “an epithet given to any medicine more to please than benefit the patient.” It was a mere 52 years later that a US physician planned the first clinical study with a “dummy remedy” to compare against the active treatment.
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