Mr Farrar - an expert at Oxford University on infectious diseases has had his views echoed by other senior experts, including Sir Michael Rawlins, president of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Prof Peter Openshaw, who advised the government during the 2009 flu outbreak.
Further influencing concerns from experts is the current Ebola outbreak in Guinea - which stands its current death toll at 84 - but this number is set to rise from a virus that reslults in multiple organ failure.
Mr Farrar's concerns are that if there is a serious outbreak of infectious disease – with current delays in the testing of lifesaving treatments that this could spread rapidly through the UK and leave hundreds or thousands dead or ill because life-saving treatments cannot be tested quickly enough. These delays are occurring due to the lengthy form filling, administrative checks, and the crucial tests that are required are not started soon enough and simply take too long.
Mr Farrar said “the system of clinical trials risks public health, especially when pandemic flu and other infectious diseases strike, because doctors have no idea which treatments may work”. “The systems we have got in place are not fit for purpose when the situation is moving quickly,” Farrar told the Guardian. “We have nothing that enables us to respond in real time.”
The DO H has approved proposals from the Health Research Authority to streamline clinical trials, but experts have argued that more work is needed within the NHS to fast-track trials in an emergency. Experts have advised that an emerging infection like bird flu, Sars or pandemic flu can easily spread across Britain within eight weeks.
New drugs and other treatments can face delays of more than twelve months before they can recruit a single case to a trial which means doctors have little hope of learning which treatments are effective during an outbreak because patients will have recovered or died before the trial can start.
Mr Farrar is urgently calling for an overhaul, and advised the DOH that trials needed to start within 24 hours of an epidemic emerging. He stressed that getting this information early on was critical if we are to know how to effectively treat patients during an epidemic and without this crucial information doctors are left completely in the dark.
Mr Farrar stated that he wanted more trials pre-approved ensuring doctors can start emergency tests in patients the minute an outbreak is known.
Sebastian Giles – Expert Witness Today News