Democratising the design and delivery of large-scale randomised, controlled clinical trials in primary care: A personal view.
BackgroundRapid identification of effective treatments for use in the community during a pandemic is vital for the well-being of individuals and the sustainability of healthcare systems and society. Furthermore, identifying treatments that do not work reduces research wastage, spares people unnecessary side effects, rationalises the cost of purchasing and stockpiling medication, and reduces inappropriate medication use. Nevertheless, only a small minority of therapeutic trials for SARS-CoV-2 infections have been in primary care: most opened too late, struggled to recruit, and few produced actionable results. Participation in research is often limited by where one lives or receives health care, and trial participants may not represent those for whom the treatments are intended.Innovative trialsThe ALIC4E, PRINCIPLE and the ongoing PANORAMIC trial have randomised over 40,500 people with COVID-19. This personal view describes how these trials have innovated in: trial design (by using novel adaptive platform designs); trial delivery (by complementing traditional site-based recruitment ('the patient comes to the research') with mechanisms to enable sick, infectious people to participate without having to leave home ('taking research to the people'), and by addressing the 'inverse research participation law,' which highlights disproportionate barriers faced by those who have the most to contribute, and benefit from, research, and; in transforming the evidence base by evaluating nine medicines to support guidelines and care decisions world-wide for COVID-19 and contribute to antimicrobial stewardship.ConclusionThe PRINCIPLE and PANORAMIC trials represent models of innovation and inclusivity, and exemplify the potential of primary care to lead the way in addressing pressing global health challenges.