A comparator drug is often required in clinical trials to compare the trial drug with an existing drug. Due to intense market competition, comparator studies are increasing, and the demand is high with regulators under pressure to develop better, more effective drugs. The market is growing rapidly, and it is thought that by providing access to large populations, drug companies can stay competitive.
New clinical research areas benefiting from comparator trials include diseases where several drugs can be used simultaneously such as lung cancer, as well as diseases that historically haven’t reacted well to single therapies, such as HIV.
Randomised clinical trials are sometimes used which involve various patient groups that have been selected at random to receive different treatments so that their outcomes can be measured. These trials often use a second therapy to treat the condition, as well as a placebo/inactive therapy which is identical so that comparisons and efficiency can be monitored.
With companies such as http://www.trials4us.co.uk/ offering paid clinical trials, there are many ways members of the public can help in the development of new and effective treatments. Despite the pressure on the NHS, medical research is progressing, and as this article published by the BBC news shows, the United Kingdom is at the heart of developments: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-44495092.
Studies which often provide the most reliable and respected results are those which compare a new experimental treatment with a placebo. The World Health Organisation has explained that trials involving controlled placebos are the best way to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new experimental drug and are therefore an essential part of medical research.
However, despite placebo-based drugs being the most effective, ethically they are not popular with sponsors, as those taking part in the trial can be suffering from life-threatening conditions, so taking away treatment can have serious consequences.
Comparator trials come with their own set of complications involving import and export challenges, commercial viability and licensing laws. Because of this, many companies form partnerships, but this in turn can create concerns over safety and documentation. In response, the non-profit agency TransCelerate has set up a network which provides established channels to work with.
Delays can regularly occur, and planning, risk assessment and other procedures can also have a significant impact on timing.