A Slow Burn

In our July 2018 issue, ASH Clinical News Associate Editor Keith Stewart, MBChB, MBA, walked us through his valiant efforts to step away from the clinical research enterprise – from recognizing his increasing cynicism and apathy as the dreaded burnout, to the moment he broke his resolve to lead a trial-free existence – in “Burnout? What Burnout?”

The article hit home with many readers who expressed their own disillusionment with the clinical trials system. Below, one reader shares his thoughts on the trials process and the role that trial sponsors can play in alleviating some of this burden to protect trialists from burnout.

To the Editor:

I read with interest and empathy Dr. Stewart’s views as he described his trials and tribulations of being a clinical trials investigator.

We all value the chance to try new drugs and agents for the patients referred to us – especially when there is a lack of effective standard therapies. At the same time, though, Big Pharma and clinical trial sponsors should value our participation, since we assist them in the process of readying their products for commercial use.

However, since pharmaceutical sponsors have handed the management process to contract research organizations – who take the easy way out by collecting untoward effect data and letting investigators wallow in the mess – they have taken away valuable time for other academic interests and delivering good patient care.

Emmanuel C. Besa, MD
Retired Professor of Medical Oncology
Kimmel Cancer Center
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA