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South African Clinical Trials: Turning Diversity into Opportunity

Eclectic demographics, rapid patient recruitment, and a burgeoning population with a gradient of disease profiles—these seem to be the fundamentals truly driving growth in South Africa’s clinical trial industry. However, without the presence of proper mechanisms to arbitrate between regulators and researchers, the sustained growth of this industry may very well be at risk.

In 2013, South Africa’s clinical trial sector was valued at roughly USD 27 million with over 1,600 trials registered according to ClinicalTrials.gov.  Needless to say, South Africa acts as a strategic hub for more than just its sound investment climate and established business infrastructure. The nation’s eclectic spread of demographics and disease burdens has attracted many of the most prominent names in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for clinical research—only fuelling the growing presence of not only multinational contract research organizations (CROs), but also local.

“South Africa’s combined characteristics of first and third world medicine have long been recognized as attractive to clinical research,” asserts Victor Strugo, managing director of Triclinium Clinical Development. “Two decades of social upliftment have additionally established a third tier of affordable semi-private medicine that brings treatment-naïve populations closer to state-of-art diagnostic methods and research-equipped facilities.”

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