31 May 2021 – As part of its mission to democratize access to information about science, Instituto Projeto Cura keeps the tradition of promoting informative lives on Instagram, always with renowned guests from the fields of medicine and research. On Thursday (27), the chat addressed the status of clinical research in the midst of a health crisis. The guests were the oncologists and researchers Dr. Heloísa Resende and Dr. Fábio Franke, while the mediator was Fernanda Schwyter, president of Instituto Projeto Cura.
Participants discussed how the pandemic made it difficult for patients to continue the cancer treatment due to the risk of the disease. Additionally, Dr. Resende and Dr. Franke mentioned that the fear of patients to refer to hospitals and the lack of vacancies in the Unified Health System (SUS) led to underreporting of new cases of cancer. “Due to the pandemic people are not having the opportunity to receive a diagnosis. That situation creates a bad forecast for the coming years, because early treatment is essential in the fight against cancer. Thus, there will be an increased number of patients needing emergency cancer treatment and the SUS will have difficulties to assist such number of people to come”, lamented Dr. Heloísa Resende.
The solution to “unburden” the SUS would be to investment and reduce the existing bureaucracy to access clinical researches addressing treatments and cures different types of cancer. However, despite the fact that COVID-19 accelerated the scientific collaboration and disseminated the importance of research for the lay population, a certain distrust of clinical trials and research arose. According to Dr. Fábio Franke and Dr. Heloísa Resende, there was a loss of reference. “Clinical research became a popular subject of conversation, which was positive, however in which research should the population believe? There is so much denial and fake news. The challenge is: how can a layperson filter the information?”, asked Dr. Heloísa Resende. For Dr. Franke, “education needs to be closer to health, so that information about vaccines, good health habits and self-care can be shared”.
At the closure of the live session, participants addressed the need increase the dissemination of rights and duties of research patients, in order to demystify the belief that such participants are guinea pigs. Dr. Fábio Franke also advocated the urgent need of regulating and reducing bureaucracy in clinical studies in Brazil, as the context of the pandemic showed us how much more agile processes are essential for us to save lives and have access to modern treatments. The oncologist advocates the bill 7082/2017, authored by senator Ana Amélia, which aims at regulating and increasing the pace of clinical research with human beings, both by public and private institutions in Brazil, thus creating principles, guidelines and rules for
conducting such studies.
Not only in the context of the health crisis, but also in the treatment of cancer, the regulation of clinical studies has the power to open Brazil to new developments in international medicine. Dr. Franke reports that “there is a great need of new treatments for cancer patients, which is not met due to the fact that few studies carried out in foreign countries can reach Brazil. That happens because of bureaucracy and lack of predictability. […] I’ve already worked in the regulatory area and it took us a year just to organize the documentation. At the end, the studies did not open in Brazil or were canceled because recruitment in the rest of the world simply ended”.
During the live session Dr. Franke also explained that the surveys are extremely organized, so there is a fear among the foreign studies to invest in a country where slow processes make it difficult to know how long it will take to obtain response from ethical and sanitary committees; how many patients will be able to join the study and when the work can actually be launched. As a consequence, the studies – mostly global ones – prefer to choose those countries with clearer scenarios.
Dr. Fábio Franke and Dr. Heloísa Resende closed the live session leaving the message that physicians and researchers need to have the right to make new studies and treatments available to patients and there is great demand for such alternatives and patients interested in applying as research volunteers.
To watch this and other lives follow us at Instagram @projetocura.
Text by Letícia Barbosa
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