The IFDCTN is geared towards non-commercial clinical trials, though this doesn't mean we are against industry-led trials. Our reasons for focussing on non-commercial research is threefold:
1. Industry already does things well
The larger drug companies are professional, well organized and have a good understanding of designing, conducting, monitoring, delivering and reporting clinical trials.
2. The need to tackle the questions that industry does not address for commercial reasons
For example, novel uses of existing inexpensive drugs, such as prednisolone, where there is financial motive to show that it works, or by investigating interventions for rare skin diseases, where little money is to be made.
It is also important that non-pharmacological approaches such as educational interventions are tested in clinical dermatology, as the answer to many problems is not only drugs.
3. The need to build an international community of dermatology health care professionals
They will then be in a better position to influence and input into the design, delivery and dissemination of good clinical research.
Not only will this approach help democratise clinical dermatology research by involving those from less developed countries, it will also help to educate larger numbers of people on the importance of critical appraisal, good quality reporting and changing clinical practice to improve the welfare of patients as new reliable evidence becomes available.
The chair of the IFDCTN is Professor Hywel Williams, based at the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology (CEBD) at The University of Nottingham, UK.
The aim of the IFDCTN is to share information in the hope of improving standards in conducting and reporting dermatology clinical trials.
The potential benefit to patients can only be reliably estimated through reviews of all relevant studies, conducted across the world.
There is therefore a vested interest in ensuring that evidence can be successfully used in such systematic reviews and not discarded because of missing data or a fundamental flaw in design.
It is for this reason that the potential benefit of a patient with severe atopic eczema in Nottingham, can depend on information from a clinical trial in Buenos Aires or Manilla.
Universal knowledge on the effects of treatments requires usable information from all global studies.