Exploring Hong Kong as a Trial Destination

May 1, 2008
Kerri Nelen

Applied Clinical Trials

Volume 0, Issue 0

Synarc gives insight into what its like to open a Clinical Research Center in Hong Kong.

Synarc Inc. (San Francisco, CA), which provides medical image analysis, biochemical marker, and subject recruitment services, announced in January the opening of its first Clinical Research Center in Hong Kong. Synarc's President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Velasquez and Dr. Edith Lau, the center's director, shared with Applied Clinical Trials what the experience has been like.

ACT: For sponsors and CROs that have never worked in Hong Kong, how would you describe it?

GV: Hong Kong is an ideal place for the conduct of clinical trials for the following reasons: clear and efficient regulatory procedures, a dense population who are amenable to participate in research, and excellent telecommunications and transport infrastructure. Our experience in conducting clinical trials has been fascinating. We were deeply moved by the passion of our study subjects, who would frequently recommend most of their friends and relatives to join our studies.

ACT: In terms of obstacles, such as language barriers, what would you say proved challenging in the migration east?

EL: All professional, managerial, and clerical personnel in Hong Kong are proficient in English and Chinese. However, the majority of study subjects speak only Chinese. This requires translating consent forms into Chinese and questionnaires to be administered in the local language. But this is truly not an obstacle.

ACT: What's the regulatory system like in Hong Kong and how would you describe the clinical trials scene there?

EL: Clinical trials must be endorsed by Institutional Review Boards and the Department of Health in Hong Kong. The recent establishment of the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Hong Kong Doctors Union is a major milestone. The Committee is empowered to issue IRB approval for research conducted in private practice. Once IRB approval is obtained, principal investigators can apply for a clinical trials certificate from the Department of Health. The whole process usually takes around 12 weeks, which is one of the most efficient around the world.

ACT: What do you think is the biggest misconception sponsors and/or CROs might have when it comes to Hong Kong as a destination for clinical research?

GV: The biggest misconception sponsors and/or CROs might have is that trials are only conducted in universities, where the scope could be limited. [But] Hong Kong has unlimited potential for clinical trials work.