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Cutting edge medical treatment trialled at Tauranga Hospital

18th December 2012

Cutting edge medical treatments trialled at Tauranga Hospital

Exciting new clinical studies are taking place at Tauranga Hospital, as new treatments are trialled and tested for illnesses such as gout and breast cancer.

The Clinical Trials Unit was established three years ago within the Bay of Plenty District Health Board Clinical School by Associate Professor Peter Gilling and Research Manager Rana Reuther.

The unit conducts research studies with patients, to find out if treatments used in health care are safe and work effectively, or if they have side effects. “No matter how promising a new drug or treatment may appear during tests in a laboratory, it must go through clinical trials so that its benefits and risks can truly be known,” said Mr Gilling.

The Clinical Trials Unit has recently amalgamated with the Bay of Plenty Medical Research Trust and has seen much growth in the past year. It now employs eleven staff and is currently co-ordinating around 35 different trials.

“We have studies going across all medical specialties – everything from oncology and respiratory, to infectious diseases and cardiology,” said Cherie Mason, Acting Research Manager at the Clinical School. “We use the trials to look at the best way to prevent, diagnose or treat illnesses and help people control their symptoms.”

Participating in these research studies allows patients to access cutting-edge medical treatment otherwise not available in New Zealand, and also provides them with the opportunity for regular specialist review and expert nursing care.

The BOPDHB itself also benefits from the trials, as it frequently incurs huge cost savings by being able to provide treatment to participants at no cost to the DHB.

“We are currently running a study assessing Her2-Positive Breast Cancer, which we expect to enrol up to 20 participants,” said Miss Mason. “This particular study will save the DHB $100,000 per patient in medical costs alone.”

All clinical trials take place at the Bay of Plenty Clinical School which is on the Tauranga Hospital grounds, with participants usually attending monthly appointments on site. The majority of participants come from the Bay of Plenty area, with many travelling from Whakatane.

The Clinical Trials Unit is presently looking for participants to take place in a new study on gout. “Gout can be an extremely debilitating illness which is often mismanaged or under-treated in the community. This trial gives participants the opportunity to be regularly reviewed by a Consultant Rheumatologist, whilst receiving a new medication for gout over a two year period,” said Miss Mason. Participants will also be reimbursed for their time and travel expenses.

If you are interested in participating in any Clinical Trials please call the Research Nurses directly on 07 557 5225.


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