Global Health & Medicine 2023;5(2):85-91.
Clinical trial experience in Japan and future issues in developing drugs to treat COVID-19
Mikami A, Terada-Hirashima J, Tokita D, Sugiura W
The National Center for Global Health and Medicine plays a central role in the treatment and research of infectious diseases in Japan. It has conducted various research and development activities on drugs to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with clinical questions as starting points. Clinical trials are essential in developing new treatment modalities, but we have noticed some characteristic difficulties in clinical trials on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. For example, since there is no standard of care when an emerging infectious disease starts to spread, establishing an appropriate control group is complicated, and many things are hurried at the start of trials. This means there is little time to arrange a placebo, and conducting blinded, randomized, controlled trials has been difficult. Another issue characteristic of infectious disease has been that progress in enrolling subjects is affected by the spread of the disease. It was also a struggle to select institutions that provide medical care on the front lines of infectious disease and conduct clinical trials regularly. To start multicenter clinical trials expeditiously, a regulated and structured network is thus considered necessary. From the perspective of implementation, it is preferable to conduct decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) that do not depend on people coming to the medical institution, while from the perspective of preventing infections during the spread of COVID-19, wide adoption of eConsent is desirable. Based on the experience of COVID-19, new measures must be taken to prepare for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases in the future.