The pandemic brought attention to the many steps pharmaceutical companies must complete before getting governmental approval to sell their products.
Experts were often asked to explain clinical trials and what Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson were doing in each of the clinical phases.
Behind the Johnson and Johnson clinical trials stood a Port Orange firm, Progressive Medical Research.
The research service company, founded in 2009, works with some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the industry. Not only were they involved in Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 clinical trial, but they have also worked with Eli Lilly, the Mayo Clinic, Novartis and Pfizer.
“There are some really cool things happening,” said Fun Community Outreach representative Sheldon.
For example, the company is using a revolutionary retinal scanning process by RetiSpec. The scanning process has the ability to detect the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
“It's still in the proof stage,” Sheldon explained. “We think they are going to be able to tell whether people are starting to develop issues with Alzheimer's, which can take up to 10 years from the time that they start developing plaque in the brain until the time that they actually start having issues with memory. Wouldn’t it be great to catch it year one and do something about it versus waiting till I don't know where my keys or my dog are?”
Another interesting study in which PMR is involved is the possibility of an oral form of insulin.
“Imagine even the environmental impact if people could switch from needles and syringes and, and just take a pill for insulin coverage,” PMR founder Dr. Alex White said.
PMR may be conducting as many as 30 studies at one time. All of them take place at the 511 S. Ridgewood Ave. office.
Though they recruit mostly within Volusia County, there are occasions when participants travel many miles to be a part of a clinical trial.
Richard Marshall, a certified physician assistant, recalled a couple who would travel from Missouri.
“I had one couple that wanted to get on one of our phase one Alzheimer's treatment trials that actually for four months of the year lived outside St. Louis,” Mr. Marshall said. “And they literally, for two months towards the end of the study, they would fly down every two weeks to be seen. They wanted to do this study because it had such a good chance of them getting the medication.”
Clearly they do not participate in every study presented to them.
“There are studies,” Mr. Marshall said, “that we don't take, because we look at the design of the study, or maybe the mechanism of the drug, and we think that this is not going to do anything.”
The industry is experiencing a shortage of participants for Alzheimer’s trials. Dr. White believes about 25,000 more people are needed. “You literally are waiting a year, two, three, longer than you would have to, if you could just have people participate sooner,” he said.
The advantage study participants gain is access to technology and medicine that is not yet on the market, but may well make a difference in a person’s life. Such was the case for a gentleman whose severe case of psoriasis had begun to affect his daily living. It had gotten to the point that his skin looked like that of a lizard. Enrolled in one of PMR’s clinical trials, his psoriasis cleared up, and the gentleman was able to get back to the normal doings of a happy life.
Participants are paid and receive information on non-medical steps they can take to improve their health. For more information, visit progressivemedicalresearch.com/.