Estimating per patient funding for cancer clinical trials: An Ontario based survey
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The financial implications of conducting clinical trials in oncology have not been well researched from a perspective that would facilitate the negotiation of appropriate reimbursement. A better understanding of the resources required to conduct clinical trials is central to this process. Summaries of two hypothetical clinical trials were circulated to the clinical trials departments of the nine regional cancer centres of Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), in the Province of Ontario, Canada. The centres were asked to produce itemized budgets with per patient charges detailed for each trial. Additionally, each trial was to be separately considered as if sponsored by a federally funded cooperative group, and then as if sponsored by industry. Six of the centres reported experience generating clinical trial budgets. Specific charges by the local Institutional Review or Research Ethics Boards (REB) were not included. The total of all per patient charges for the first trial ranged from 1352 dollars to 3082 dollars when considered as a cooperative group trial, and from 1700 dollars to 7217 dollars when considered as an industry sponsored trial. Similar charges for the second trial ranged from 2251 dollars to 5826 dollars and from 2251 dollars to 11,304 dollars respectively. Despite the similarities of the regional cancer centres across the province of Ontario, there were surprisingly large differences in the submitted budgets. No centre consistently produced the highest or lowest estimates. The majority of the differences appeared to be based on the range in estimates for professional support (nurse and physician), and the required radiology investigations. For centres that negotiate specific per patient funding amounts with industry, this data would suggest a need to better understand the budgeting process and its link to appropriate resource identification to ensure appropriate funding is obtained. These issues are likely not unique to oncology.
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