COLLABORATION. Henrik Sjövall, professor emeritus at the Institute of Medicine, has been tasked by the government through the Swedish Research Council to study the organization of clinical committees. In his report, which is to be submitted in September, he will present proposals for increasing the quality of clinical studies in Sweden and increasing the number of studies funded by companies.
“I’m incredibly honored to be entrusted with this assignment. I am currently collecting all the bits and pieces and will then try to put them together into a complete picture, which I think few people in the system would be able to do today. Some see the tail, some the ears, some the trunk, but almost no one sees the elephant,” says Henrik Sjövall. He hopes that anyone with relevant contributions for the study will contact him.
Henrik Sjövall is a professor at the University of Gothenburg and a doctor specializing in gastroenterology. He was deputy head of the Institute of Medicine for many years, and for ten years was in the Sahlgrenska University Management Group as a representative for Sahlgrenska Academy.
“I’m someone who knows a bit about a lot, and I can speak with the medical care system and understand them. I have already begun speaking with people at different levels with the health and medical system, in the pharmaceutical industry and in different organizations to find out their views and to see how different views can fit together,” says Henrik Sjövall. “My personal network is primarily in Gothenburg, and I would like to hear proposals from people outside of this network who could contribute to this study. To gain a comprehensive perspective, I want to speak with people who have upper management experience within the health and medical care system and with employees who are on the frontlines doing the work.”
Smaller life science companies
To increase the number of drug trials in Sweden, another governmental study was conducted about seven years ago called Stronger together, which led to the formation of Clinical Studies Sweden and its six regional nodes. The Swedish Research Council also has two committees, one for clinical therapy research and one for clinical studies.
Compared with previous reports, Henrik Sjövall thinks that his report will focus more on the medical care management system and the ability of the care system to participate in trials. It will also highlight smaller companies developing new therapies and medical technical products.
“What is often called Big Pharma nowadays only consists of AstraZeneca in Sweden, but we also have many smaller companies, which could be called Little Pharma. There is a lot of growth here and it is a field I’d like to gain a better grasp of in the study,” says Henrik Sjövall and adds that the development of new medical products is an industry that is often overlooked. “The regulations are not as well developed as for pharmaceutical products, and these, often small companies with limited capital have a hard time finding the right partners in the care system.”
A fourth phase
Sweden has a long and successful history of developing pharmaceuticals and medical technology, and the government’s goal is that the country can continue to be a leading nation in the life sciences.
“One possibility, which I want to examine more closely, is studies that could be called the fourth phase of clinical trials, which currently are divided into three phases. The fourth phase is about examining the results of a therapy in the real world, where Sweden, with our registers, has a unique ability to follow up individuals that have received a particular drug. I think that this is one way that we in Sweden have a real chance of contributing,” says Henrik Sjövall.
There is no time to waste. Henrik Sjövall is supposed to give a presentation to the Swedish Research Council in July and the final report is to be completed by August 14. The report will serve as the basis for the Swedish Research Council’s recommendations to the Government Offices.
TEXT AND PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM