Capacity for clinical research on herbal medicines in Africa
An electronic survey was used to assess the training needs of clinical and public health researchers who have been involved, and/or plan to become involved, in clinical trials of herbal medicines in Africa. Over 90 researchers were contacted through pre-existing networks, of whom 58 (64%) responded, from 35 institutions in 14 African countries. Over half (57%) had already been involved in a clinical trial of an herbal medicine, and gave information about a total of 23 trials that have already been completed. Of these, only five had been published, and only one had resulted in a licensed product. Fifty-four (54) of the researchers were planning to conduct a clinical trial of an herbal medicine in the future, and gave information about 54 possible trials. Respondents outlined the following most commonly encountered difficulties when conducting clinical trials: resource constraints (including lack of funding, equipment, staff, and infrastructure); social acceptance of the clinical trial (including difficulty recruiting enough patients, poor rapport with traditional healers, and willingness of biomedical staff to be involved); herbal medicine supply (including insufficient cultivation, production, and quality control); lack of trained staff; and logistical issues in conducting trials. The topics in which researchers were least confident were Intellectual Property Rights issues, statistical issues, and issues related to Good Clinical Practice guidelines. © Copyright 2012, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2012.