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Cancer trials are important as patients in India have exhausted all available treatment procedures: Dr Bhardwaj

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Tuesday, August 31, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Clinical trials on cancer are extremely important for India as there are a number of cancer patients who have apparently exhausted all available drugs and treatment procedures in the country, stated Dr. Gunjan Bhardwaj, founder and CEO, Innoplexus.

There are also a sizeable number of patients who have undergone multiple surgeries and have such complications that make them inoperable. Here human studies with novel cancer drugs are a great hope for them as successful trials can not only prolong their lives but, also benefit others in the times to come, he added.

In India, cancer trials were not popular in the past due to lack of regulatory provisions and oversight. Instances were reported where lack of ethical practices and adverse outcomes were observed. In the absence of a regulated and transparent clinical trials system such as in western countries, the Supreme Court of India had put strong restrictions on cancer trials. However, in a country where cancer is the second biggest cause of mortalities among non-communicable diseases, clinical trials are much wanted, Dr Bhardwaj told Pharmabiz.

The dreaded disease, cancer accounts for about 9% of all fatalities in India which makes it the second biggest killer after heart diseases. The disease prevalence is slightly higher among Indian women compared to men as per the data available for the year 2020. On an average, 1 in 9 Indians is expected to suffer from some type of cancer during his/her lifetime. Among the males, lung cancer which is 1 in 68 males, and among the females, breast cancer: 1 in 29 are the two most prevalent forms of cancer.

North East states indicate high prevalence of cancer. This is attributed to the lack of healthcare awareness, local lifestyles, cultural practices leading to and heavy tobacco consumption. Hence challenge of cancer needs to be combated on multiple levels, he said.

Now Innoplexus which is a global AI-based platform for drug discovery and development has noted there is a need for greater awareness around risk factors for cancer and early identification of the disease in the pre-malignant stage.

The country is divided into six zones for the study of cancer data, but overall, no more than 10% of the country has been brought under coverage of the efforts. It is important to undertake information dissemination and cancer education in regional languages via social media platforms.

Infrastructure building and training of personnel is required alongside building a robust clinical screening ecosystem. Trials of drugs and treatment procedures also needs to be taken up with greater seriousness and advanced technology driven screening as well as patient consultation tools need to be deployed with greater urgency. A hub and spoke model of care is required wherein centralized hospital-based caregivers are able to use technology to communicate with patients in far-flung areas, carry out diagnostics and offer consultation and therapeutic support, Dr Bhardwaj pointed out.

Cancer is a rising threat globally. India is greatly affected and there is a huge gap in terms of the need and availability of caregivers, drugs and medical infrastructure. However, in the recent years, the pace of efforts to address the problem has picked up. Even though, there is not yet adequate action or infrastructure available, things are definitely getting better, he said.


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