Citing the complexities of running trials in China to Western standards, US-based information technology company Visual Healthcare Corp. has started work on a Chinese-based adaptation of the IT grids its clients use in their clinical trial applications.

Visual Healthcare designs, creates and develops information platforms addressing the automation of healthcare information management and the needs of healthcare organisations. These  include pharmaceutical research, clinical trials, laboratory automation, quality assurance and other areas such as proprietary frameworks for electronic health records.

The project to develop an adapted IT grid for clinical trials was prompted by requests from both Chinese academic centres and from CRO experts “responding to Chinese government resolve to create a major domestic drug industry”, Visual Healthcare said.

While drug manufacturing in China has expanded following the series of laws enacted by the Chinese government in 2007 to stimulate the pharmaceutical sector, clinical trials have “proved a more difficult challenge”, the company commented.

For all that, China could turn out to be “fertile ground for clinical trials, with its large population which may ease hurdles ranging from cost, patient recruitment delays, patient compliance during participation, qualified professionals, new clinical trial patients, and other problems”, it suggested..

Operating pharmaceutical testing facilities and running clinical trials in China “will require compatible software to manage their information gathering and data mining procedures”, said Gerard Dab, chairman of Visual Healthcare.

“Yes, it is a new market and it has some challenges such as conveying novel notions like informed consent, but we believe that we can leverage our Chinese experience to generate significant business in helping this budding Chinese industry.”

One advantage, the company noted, is that  while health is a provincial or local responsibility in China, the central government now allocates special budgets to hospitals for the acquisition of new technology, “a move that will help usher in modern clinical trials”.