Mindray, a global medical research and product development brand, has announced plans to explore clinical trials in the country.
The announcement comes as discussions for Africa to have state-of-the-art clinical trial laboratories that facilitate sample testing during development of drugs – to enhance tailor-made products with high efficacy rates – for its diverse general population are gaining traction.
Clinical trials generate vital data on dosage, safety and efficacy of a drug or vaccine under development. To achieve this, certified state-of-the-art laboratories are required. However, such facilities are lacking in sub-Saharan Africa, except for South Africa.
Healthcare infrastructure, particularly at the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) for instance – having acquired certification as the first laboratory in West Africa with such standards, is gradually shifting global attention to the country.
Chief Medical Officer-Mindray, North America, Dr. Henry Huang, mentioned that conducting clinical trials in Africa offers several advantages; including diverse populations, lower costs, improved service quality in saving lives, and shorter patient-recruitment times.
“We have been thinking about this for a while now, because there are a lot of publications highlighting efficacy issues and the need for clinical trials in Africa. It is true that a lot of the clinical trials we have done were in America and Europe, we forgot about the minority groups; which means that our results might be biased and now it is becoming a known fact, so we are working toward that.
“We have to include different populations into our clinical trials and products development, so we can get reliable results to represent all kinds of population and also reduce the malpractice, maltreatment and misdiagnosis,” he added.
African populations are genetically diverse, which is crucial in testing drugs and therapies for their efficacy and safety in different population groups.
With this backdrop, he added: “I will see to it that we have some clinical trials and studies happening here in Ghana to cater for the African market, because there are different endemics or diseases in this part of the world”.
Clinical trials are an essential step in the drug development process as they enable evaluation and testing of new drugs and therapies in human subjects.
Africa has a vast population of over 1.3 billion people, most of whom are affected by communicable and non-communicable diseases. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa accounts for around 24 percent of the global disease burden but has only two percent of the world’s health workforce – and less than one percent of the world’s health expenditure.
Therefore, Africa needs clinical trial activities to address its health challenges and improve healthcare outcomes. Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera and HIV, among others, are prevalent on the continent and require tailored drugs that are sensitive to the diversity in Africa.
For Ghana, the good news is that there is a well-resourced Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) capable of overseeing the approval and regulation of clinical trials, ensuring the safety of participants and integrity of the trial process, he said.
Dr. Huang spoke exclusively to B&FT on the sidelines of a forum organised in Accra by Flokefama Limited, themed ‘Sustainable healthcare systems: Contribution of quality laboratory diagnosis’.
Furthermore, he underscored that Mindray recognises the potential Ghana holds for clinical trials; emphasising the country’s stable political climate, reliable regulatory framework, diverse population, strong healthcare infrastructure, large patient base and cost advantages all contribute to its appeal.
By exploring Ghana’s clinic trial potential, the global brand can gain vital insights, optimise its product development processes, and contribute to the improvement of healthcare outcomes in both Ghana and the sub-region.