Virtual drug tests boost results


There’s little doubt that tests carried out within a clinically supervised environment are essential when developing new drugs to improve and save lives, but the soaring costs of this process can be prohibitive, and limit research into the development of much needed new drugs.

Why are traditional methods so expensive?

The process of a new drug getting from those initial ideas to being available on the market can take many years, and a dollar figure in the billions. That’s not surprising considering the many thousands of hours invested in it by researchers, doctors, and scientists, and that’s before it even gets to the – often multi-layered- clinical trial stage. Inevitably this hampers the amount of new and possibly life-changing drugs which can be launched each year.

Could virtual reality help resolve this issue?

Doctor Belinda H. Tan certainly believes it can, specifically by cutting the costs of traditional studies in half. In fact, she is already doing exactly that. Alongside a strong team of all the usual experts, Doctor Tan has devised a system where she can organise drug trials entirely through online means and methods.

How does this online drug trial approach work?

Perhaps the pivotal key to success is that patients participating in adaptive phase 1 clinical studies can do this from home, via options including video chat, email, and phone. This way there are no expensive travel and accommodation bills, and it’s convenient so fewer people drop out too. Patients can live all over the country, and see a specialist, in virtual terms, based anywhere in the world.

The future is virtual

Right now this approach doesn’t work for all drugs, but along with other clinical trial research advances, the future is looking very positive. It’s not possible to ignore the exciting opportunities for progress technology can offer, no matter how tempting that may be for some in this industry –

Huge traditional trials can need a few dozen test sites to safely accommodate all of those taking part, and as each trial needs a full complement of staff on site this is inevitably going to send costs rocketing further. Virtual world trials can make the most of their doctors and scientists, and they should also help get medicines to market faster, and perhaps make them cheaper too.


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