RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC--(Marketwire - February 24, 2011) - Africa is emerging as a viable location for pharmaceutical clinical trials thanks to a unique combination of characteristics, according to a new report by business intelligence firm Cutting Edge Information.

Findings from the study, "Emerging Markets Clinical Development Series: Africa," show that African countries offer advantages such as high patient enrollment and retention rates, lower costs and varied disease burdens -- all traits that make them attractive to drug developers.

"Around the world, emerging markets present both advantages and disadvantages for clinical development," said Jason Richardson, President of Cutting Edge Information. "This is especially true in Africa, where the advantages found in one country may differ greatly from those found in the country next door. Knowing the local landscape is critical."

Country-to-country variability

South Africa outpaces other African countries in the number of registered clinical trials by a rate of nearly 10 to one, but clinical development opportunities are growing elsewhere on the continent. Pharmaceutical teams just need to know where to look to find trial sites.

Outside of South Africa, regulatory timelines, costs and other critical considerations vary dramatically. Nothing is more important, however, than a country's disease burden.

"Research goes where the diseases are," said Shaylyn Pike, lead author of the emerging markets series. "In Africa, you see a high incidence of communicable diseases in some countries and a high incidence of developed-nation diseases in others."

The report finds, for example, that a majority of trials in Central African countries such as Tanzania and Uganda test drugs for malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis. In Northern African countries, where the disease burden more closely resembles Westernized countries, trials target Hepatitis C and various cancers.

Health economics concerns

The HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics have a significant impact on African clinical development. South Africa, a country whose citizens account for less than 1% of the total global population -- yet represent 17% of the global HIV epidemic -- is highly sensitive to the impact of clinical trials on its people.

South Africa's regulatory body will deny studies with no long-term benefit to its citizens. Because of this, drug developers work with African governments to identify how studies will aid both trial participants and, eventually, the wider population.

Contact Information:

Stephanie Swanson
+1 919-403-6583