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Building a strong region for clinical trials

Denmark has the best track record in the world for clinical trials per capita. Over the last years there has however been a decline in the number of clinical trials conducted in the country. By creating one powerful region in the north part of the country, there could be a reversed trend.

For a long time, Denmark, similarly to other Scandinavian countries, has been very active in clinical trials and has therefore established a solid tradition of performing clinical studies. Approximately 1 000 clinical trials are approved each year. Several factors determine the country’s success within this field. One reason is costs:  According to Invest in Denmark, the country is among the cheapest countries in Western Europe for the performance of clinical trials. A second factor, which is perhaps of even bigger impact, is the fact that Denmark has the highest number of clinical trials per capita in Europe. Each year, around 20 000 Danes participate in clinical trials.
“As clinical studies have been a long-time tradition in Denmark, it has become a natural thing for many to be included in trials. We have some of the most specialized cros collaborating with hospitals and universities, but I think that the public also wants to contribute in order for medicine to move forward. This might be one explanation for why it is easier to get patients to participate,” says Dr. Lars Arendt-Nielsen.

Lars Arendt-Nielsen is a professor at the Department of Health Science and Technology at Aalborg University, as well as Director of Eir, a new Danish health and life science business park. The new health and business park aims to facilitate develop-
ment and innovation within the field of health science and technology and to offer a fully integrated access to patients, academics and advanced research laboratories in the region. By promoting connections between research and the business community, Eir hopes to create a platform for more clinical trials in Northern Denmark.
“In order to facilitate and further enhance our activities, we have turned the whole of  north Denmark into a big clinical trials unit, combining the various research competences with clinical environments. This is because we have the strongest
research environment in that area, as well as strong interdisciplinary relations. With Eir, we are focusing on the benefits of combining research and clinical science and focusing intensively on bringing the whole region together as one. In this region, we also have access to a lot of different patient populations, close collaborations between all the hospitals and international cros, one of which is the only contract research organization in the world that focuses on biomarkers in early drug development,” says Arendt-Nielsen.

Despite Denmark’s strong tradition of clinical trials, there has been a decline in the number of trials conducted over the last few years, which is also true for other Scandinavian countries. However, Lars Arendt-Nielsen hopes that with increased political focus on this issue and stronger collaboration, the trend can go in the other direction. Besides promoting Northern Denmark, he also wants to highlight the capabilities in the neighboring countries.

“There is a strong interest in Northern Denmark, but also in the areas around Oslo in Norway and Gothenburg in the south of Sweden. These three regions have a lot in common. For instance, we have a very high retention rate and recruit many patients per site, and we make sure to keep our patients. All of the countries have a long tradition of studies and domestic companies have very high credibility.”

“There has already been discussions and interest in the gathering of the Nordic countries, in that we should come together and promote Scandinavia as a region. Working together we can become even stronger,” Arendt-Nielsen concludes. g