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“Unfortunately, we are not strong when it comes to conducting clinical trials”

The number of company-initiated clinical trials conducted in Sweden has been declining in recent years. In mid-March, a government inquiry was presented that aimed to find answers and solutions to this downward trend. One of the proposals was a stable, sustainable and funded model for collaboration.

“When it comes to the number of clinical trials, Sweden has been on a downward trend for a very long time. The trend has not turned in the last ten years and we see a continued decline, more specifically by 22%,” says Peter Asplund, Head of Operations at Region Örebro County.

Last year, he was commissioned by the government to lead a government inquiry aimed at finding solutions for creating improved conditions for clinical trials in Sweden. Earlier this year, he presented the inquiry’s results, which include seven proposed initiatives. Among other things, Peter Asplund emphasises that collaboration between healthcare, industry, patients, licensing authorities and academia needs to be improved.

“Sweden needs to formulate and declare a national vision for clinical trials. The main proposal is for a stable, sustainable and funded model for collaboration.”

According to Peter Asplund, some of the areas that need to be strengthened are the healthcare system’s capacity to conduct clinical trials, the supply of expertise, the handling of biomaterials for research purposes, and adapting several laws that affect clinical trials.

Peter Asplund is one of the speakers at this year’s The Future of Swedish & Danish Life Science conference in Lund on 7 September. Among other things, he will talk about the investigation, the submitted proposals and relevant lessons from countries with similar conditions as Sweden, such as Denmark.

“For a long time, Denmark has made and continues to make efforts in this area with good results and has managed to reverse the trend,” he says and continues:

“Our basic conditions are relatively similar. We can see that the Danish structure works on the principle of accepting collaboration in clinical trials. We have not yet seen this mentality and culture in the Swedish system, and the dialogue between the parties is characterised by hesitation, often based on a lack of capacity that seems difficult to tackle.”

However, he believes that Sweden, like its neighbouring country, would also be able to reverse the trend with similar measures with political support and a common vision.

“We are generally a strong nation in research and life sciences. It is unfortunate that we are not strong when it comes to conducting clinical trials as well.”

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