The challenges and opportunities of conducting a clinical trial in a low resource setting: the case of the Cameroon mobile phone SMS (CAMPS) trial, an investigator initiated trial.
Mbuagbaw L., Thabane L., Ongolo-Zogo P., Lang T.
Conducting clinical trials in developing countries often presents significant ethical, organisational, cultural and infrastructural challenges to researchers, pharmaceutical companies, sponsors and regulatory bodies. Globally, these regions are under-represented in research, yet this population stands to gain more from research in these settings as the burdens on health are greater than those in developed resourceful countries. However, developing countries also offer an attractive setting for clinical trials because they often have larger treatment naive populations with higher incidence rates of disease and more advanced stages. These factors can present a reduction in costs and time required to recruit patients. So, balance needs to be found where research can be encouraged and supported in order to bring maximum public health benefits to these communities. The difficulties with such trials arise from problems with obtaining valid informed consent, ethical compensation mechanisms for extremely poor populations, poor health infrastructure and considerable socio-economic and cultural divides. Ethical concerns with trials in developing countries have received attention, even though many other non-ethical issues may arise. Local investigator initiated trials also face a variety of difficulties that have not been adequately reported in literature. This paper uses the example of the Cameroon Mobile Phone SMS trial to describe in detail, the specific difficulties encountered in an investigator-initiated trial in a developing country. It highlights administrative, ethical, financial and staff related issues, proposes solutions and gives a list of additional documentation to ease the organisational process.