The UK-based Institute of Clinical Research (ICR) has extended the reach of its training programme to the Middle East, running the Institute’s popular clinical trials and clinical trials practice course in Saudi Arabia.

The course introduces the principles of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and other regulatory requirements for clinical research, as well as addressing the practicalities of conducting trials to these standards. It was attended by delegates from some of the leading institutions and pharmaceutical companies in Saudi Arabia, the ICR said.

A number of leading pharmaceutical multinationals have a presence in the country, including Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, the Institute noted. As things stand, though, only later-phase clinical trials are being conducted in Saudi Arabia.

According to the ICR, the kingdom wants to attract more clinical research business by demonstrating its commitment to quality and good practice in the sector.

“It’s great to see Saudi Arabia embracing GCP training,” commented Sue Fitzpatrick, who ran the clinical trials course in Jeddah. “At the moment the regulatory and ethical systems are evolving, and this is a golden opportunity for the ICR and Saudi Arabian researchers to work together to develop a solid foundation of quality to build on in the future”.

There are plans to organise several more courses in Saudi Arabia. The ICR has stepped up its training activities markedly over the last few years, running courses in Western and Central and Eastern Europe as well as America and India.