‘Portugal Can Lead in Clinical Research’

Portugal must «join forces» to be able to attract to the country the largest investments in clinical research. If so, it may lead in the area, sustained Isabel Vaz in a debate at SIC Notícias, promoted in the scope of Gilead Program Genesis award ceremony, distinguishing projects of social support and scientific research.

Luz Saúde CEO was invited to discuss the impact of clinical research in the improvement of healthcare in the population, within a panel also including Álvaro Almeida (economist, specialist in health and member of PSD National Strategic Council), Laranja Pontes (president of the management board of IPO Porto), Miguel Guimarães (president of the National Association of Doctors) and Luís Costa (director of Hospital de Santa Maria oncology centre).

Isabel Vaz started by demystify the idea that research is incompatible with the rules of the private sector: «On the contrary, to evolve and excel in healthcare providing, a hospital must attract the best human resources and, therefore, do clinical research».

Presently, she reminded, the most significant sources of investment in health are private, «such as pharmaceutical companies, big data and data science industry and even insurance companies», as well as programs like Portugal 2020.

In fact, «hospitals can have here the opportunity to increase revenues and keep the best professionals», for a great part of research today views to find «the best clinical paths» that bring value to the patient. «We, public and private healthcare providers, receive and follow the patients. Therefore, we can determine the success or failure of therapeutics. Without hospitals, there is no big data, no science data and no investigation», she explained.

Thus, «if we join forces, Portugal can lead in clinical research», she added. «At Luz Saúde, we have partnerships with the public sector, in the sense of attracting to the country important clinical trials», Luz Saúde CEO exemplified, expressing, however, concern on «the lack of a clear strategy» towards establishing national registers of diseases.

On the other hand, Miguel Guimarães stated that «the difficult phase the country is living in financial and investment terms in the National Health Service reflects on research, which has been particularly penalized». The example of «hepatitis C medication, fruit of research, which allowed to cure over 90% of patients», having a strong financial impact, was used by the president of the medical association to observe: «Innovation seems expensive at first, but allows cost reduction afterwards». Luís Costa stressed that «young and highly qualified doctors feel more motivated, when they can do research»: «If I didn’t have research in my service, I wouldn’t be able to attract such professionals, which is fundamental to provide better healthcare to patients. Furthermore, investigation gives access to medication the hospital doesn’t have to pay for».

In the photo above, from left to right: Álvaro Almeida, Laranja Pontes, Miguel Guimarães, journalist Ricardo Costa, Isabel Vaz and Luís Costa.