Goldner, a toxicologist who has conducted his own clinical trials and worked in the medical field for about 30 years, says the site “empowers patients. We give them choices in common, everyday language they can understand.”
CureLauncher President David Fuehrer says his family’s medical history is proof that such a service is needed. A two-time testicular cancer survivor, he lost his father to bladder cancer a year ago, three weeks after the attending physician suggested the elder Fuehrer might benefit from a clinical trial. By that time, however, it was too late for him to find or participate in a research study.
A couple of months later, Fuehrer sat in a boardroom where Goldner was making a pitch for financial backing. Within a month Fuehrer, who has managed new products at Pfizer, General Electric and Dow Solar, had quit his job and joined Goldner.
“It was too unbelievable for me that so soon after what happened to my father, he came in to talk about this,” Fuehrer recalls. “No one should lose a father, a son, a spouse without the opportunity of benefiting from a clinical trial.”
Many of the patients who have enrolled with CureLauncher suffer from some form of cancer, mostly breast, prostrate or leukemia. But Goldner notes that the site also has gotten requests for trial information on diabetes, psoriasis and congestive heart disease.
With tens of millions of Americans dealing with chronic diseases, clinical trials are an essential part of the way science discovers cures and safe treatments. Usually conducted at hospitals, medical schools and other research facilities, these trials tend to be good for participants, too. Research has shown that clinical trial patients, even those who receive a placebo, tend to do better than others going the traditional route for the same condition. This could be because of the constant monitoring by the clinical trial team, researchers speculate.
Kohl, the Tavernier attorney, feels he is getting extra attention as a trial participant. Being part of an experiment has also saved him money because he didn’t pay for the cost of chemotherapy drugs. And there was an added benefit, a contribution to science: “I feel my experience could assist other people who might go through the same thing.”
UM’s Samuels says the South Florida area is “well served” by research studies because of both its universities and medical facilities. However, patients may not know about these opportunities.
“A majority of physicians in the community don’t tell patients about the possibility of a trial,” he adds. “In addition, it’s a complicated system and the information out there is for medical health professionals, not for patients.”
Even when a patient finds an open clinical trial, she might not meet the pre-requisites for the study. In such cases, researchers don’t necessarily refer a patient to other trials. CureLauncher, Samuels says, tries to address such issues.
“I’m in favor of any method of getting more patients enrolled in clinical trials,” he adds. “I think doing so benefits current patients, future patients and the process of scientific discovery. CureLauncher’s program has the potential to bring additional patients into the clinical trial process and that would be very positive.”