Performing clinical trials and research in Sweden

It is often stated that we must make it more attractive to perform clinical trials and research in Sweden. This is a valid statement and ambition. However, several main actors within the global pharmaceutical industry see Sweden as an attractive country for clinical research with a good reputation: the industry readily cooperates with clinics and recruit patients to clinical trials.

There are many comprehensive and valuable patient registers for different indications that can be utilized in connection to clinical trials. Swedish quality data registers can be seen as a gold mine to dig into. In Real World Data (RWD) studies Sweden contributes with a good share of 10 % globally; the quality data registers creates unique possibilities for Sweden.

Experience wise it shows that clinical trials performed at Swedish sites deliver very high quality seen from an international perspective. Sweden’s position as a medical research nation is considered strong despite the relatively small population of almost 10 million. Contributing factors to success, among others are well-developed healthcare system that covers the whole population, a trust and willingness among the population to participate in research, high level of education and good collaboration between academia and industry as well as well-functioning competent authority and ethics committees. This has led to that international Big-Pharma companies like Pfizer, MSD and GSK has chosen to include Swedish clinics in a significant number and proportion of their studies and research. Sweden is among the nine EU countries that GSK has been selected globally as especially prioritized when it comes to increase their clinical operation. Swedish clinics contribute to and participate in 25 % of all Pfizer global projects. MSD stood for 15 % of the patients in studies that was reported by the Swedish LIF-companies in the year 2013.

According to Stephen Pyke, SVP Clinical Projects & Quantitative Sciences at GSK, there is a specifically strong competence within specialized early study development, that is, phase I and II.

This early development argument, Quality data registers and RWD studies would argue for a broad spectra of studies (phase I to IV and above) suitable to be conducted in Sweden.

The Swedish Research Council has been given a coordinating mandate by the government to support and develop the conditions for conducting high quality clinical studies and to ensure the country’s position as a competitive and attractive country to conduct studies in.  As a result of the political and governmental efforts the national committee “Kliniska Studier Sverige” (Clinical Studies Sweden) has been established.

To mention some of the long-term goals and current projects that has come out of this strategic plan, are to create a national website informing about Sweden as a research country. Furthermore, aims are made to improve the ability to provide rapid, and reliable responses to study requests (feasibilities), support training, facilitate and shorten the contracting process for all contracting parties by creating a standardized contracting process.

As a further backbone is Läkemedelsindustriföreningen (LIF) that comprise of about 85 members and associate companies who represent approximately 80 percent of the total sales of pharmaceuticals in Sweden. Part of their mission is to improve access to innovative medicines for all patients in Sweden and Increased Pharma Industry R&D activities in Swedish Health care.