“Overall, Belgium has the highest number of clinical trials per capita in Europe, after Denmark and Estonia,” explains Nathalie Lambot, specialist in clinical trials at pharma.be. “In 2019 alone, there were as many as 526. The local pharmaceutical environment is very attractive, not only because of the high quality level of the authority issuing the necessary licenses – the Federal Agency for Medicinal Products –, but also because of the quality of the local hospitals, clinical research centers and doctors, who have years of experience under their belts.”
In particular, as Lambot further points out, Belgium and Flanders as a region are highly regarded when it comes to phase 1 clinical trials. This is mainly due to the Belgian ecosystem for such clinical trials, which consists of “7 university hospitals, 12 universities with life sciences departments and internationally renowned research teams, 14 bioincubators and 52 companies active in clinical R&D.”
“What’s more,” Lambot continues, “Belgium is home to progressive companies and excellent research centers in therapeutic fields such as oncology, vaccination as well as gene and cell therapy. Across the country, there are 8 units specialized in phase 1 clinical trials, conducting studies on healthy volunteers. But there are also many hospital departments that offer the possibility to carry out phase 1 studies with volunteering patients.” In the future, this top-class life sciences ecosystem is bound to get another boost with the launch of Europe’s first-ever vaccinopolis in Flanders.