2. Who Conducts Medicine Clinical Trials and Why?

Clinical trials typically involve a number of different parties. It is helpful to understand who is leading the creation and the conduct of a trial and why they are doing it:
  • A sponsor is the body (usually a company, university or hospital) that takes responsibility for organising the trial and often funds the trial.

  • An investigator (or investigators for multi-centre trials) - the doctor responsible for the performance of the trial.

  • Sometimes the sponsor will engage a contract research organisation (CRO) to help with the logistics (organisation) and the conduct of the trial.
Sponsors can be companies or government funded institutions/agencies. Both may perform trials in order to use the gathered data to support applications that will allow promotion and marketing of products for the approved indication(s).

They may also undertake studies in the best interests of the community to understand diseases. Occasionally they will collaborate with other partners to explore a particular problem, perhaps one that is not of commercial interest but is of interest to patients and the healthcare system.