Acadia Clinical Research studies flu drug in Bangor

Posted March 06, 2009, at 9:37 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:03 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Feeling a little punky? Fluish, maybe? Before you call in sick and crawl back to bed, consider contacting Acadia Clinical Research on Hancock Street.

The privately owned company is recruiting adults 18 and older who have early influenza symptoms — fever, cough, aches and pains — for a clinical study of peramivir, a new antiviral medication. Instead of spending a miserable week in bed, you might be feeling much better in just a few hours. In the process, you could get paid $300 and become a public health hero.

According to Gail Baillargeon, president of the research company, peramivir has been tested through several winter flu seasons to determine its ability to reduce severe flu symptoms and prevent transmission of the potentially dangerous disease. While results are unofficial at this point, preliminary signs are encouraging, she said.

“Many people who received the injection last year reported feeling better within 12 hours,” she said.

In addition to its potential for nipping garden-variety influenza in the bud, she said, the drug may prove a valuable tool against the global influenza epidemic that many public health experts say is brewing in Asia and could prove more devastating than the influenza pandemic of 1918 and 1919. That public health disaster killed an estimated 30 million to 50 million people worldwide, including more than 675,000 Americans.

According to a 2007 news release from BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, the Birmingham, Ala., company that developed the drug, it was awarded $102.6 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to test peramivir in humans.

Clinical trials have been ongoing since then, but this is the first year Acadia Clinical Research has been one of the national test sites.

“The award made to BioCryst is part of a larger HHS initiative to pursue the development of new therapies and vaccines which may expand the ability of the United States to respond quickly to a potential pandemic,” the news release said.

No need to borrow trouble, though. Even the predictable — and largely vaccine-preventable — seasonal flu sickens millions of Americans each year. It closes schools, drives down workplace productivity, and kills an estimated 30,000 in the U.S. annually, primarily the elderly, the very young and those with a weakened ability to combat illness.

“It is really not fun to get the flu,” Baillargeon said Friday. That’s one reason Acadia Clinical Research is willing to pay ailing study participants $300 each. It’s small compensation for dragging themselves into the clinic, undergoing testing to confirm the influenza diagnosis, and bending over for a deep intramuscular injection in the gluteus maximus — all when they’d really rather just curl up in a ball and suffer in peace.

Participants must agree to keep a symptom diary for two weeks after the initial visit and also must be seen a total of five times at the research clinic.

Baillargeon said she’s actively seeking just five new participants, but encouraged anyone with emerging flu symptoms to call.

“We’re always looking for study participants,” she said.

Acadia Clinical Research was established in 2004 and is staffed by a number of area physicians and other health professionals. In addition to the influenza trials, the company is engaged in studying medications for diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and other conditions.

Call 941-9965 for more information.

On the Web: http://www.acadiaclinical.com

mhaskell@bangordailynews.net

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