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Happy Clinical Trials Day on May 20

Where would contraceptive technology innovation be without clinical trials?  Where would all of health care be without them? Historical accounts attribute James Lind, a surgeon mate on the British Royal Navy’s HMS Salisbury and an early champion of naval hygiene, as leading the first “clinical trial,” back in 1747.  In honor of that  event, Clinical Trials Day is now observed on May 20.

With so many sailors on ship suffering from scurvy, Dr. Lind found a homogenous study population,  exposed to similar clinical conditions, environment, and diet options.  Thinking that scurvy was caused by body “putrefaction,” Dr. Lind hypothesized that introducing acids to the diet would cure the problem.

According to writings from his personal library, Dr. Lind “allocated two men to each of six different daily treatments for a period of 14 days. The six treatments were: 1.1 litres of cider; twenty-five millilitres of elixir vitriol (dilute sulphuric acid); 18 millilitres of vinegar three times throughout the day before meals; half a pint of sea water; two oranges and one lemon continued for six days only (when the supply was exhausted); and a medicinal paste made up of garlic, mustard seed, dried radish root and gum myrrh.”  As noted in Lind’s report of the trial, sailors given citrus fruits experienced “the most sudden and good visible effects.

To salute the importance of clinical trials in the progression of science and human development, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) is leading a celebration of Clinical Trials Day on Friday, May 20.  Three hour-long webinars focused on issues that are reshaping and reinventing global clinical research are planned.

Next time you add a slice of lemon or lime to your summertime drink of choice, raise your glass in honor of Dr. Lind and the scientific approach that he is credited with launching….from his concern about scurvy.



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