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CHARM provides quality patient care, produces sound trial data

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chattanooga Research and Medicine, or CHARM as it’s known locally, is a medical center specializing in clinical pharmaceutical research.

The practice began in 2007 with Dr. Eugene Ryan and his desire to continue helping people while learning more about the world of pharmacy. Dr. Ryan was a pharmacist before he became an M.D., so he already had a deep understanding of drugs and how they were developed. When he got his first case study, he saw the potential to continue working in both fields.

“It was an opportunity to try new medicine before it comes out on the market and see how it works,” said Dr. Ryan. “In these economic times it’s very rewarding to help people get the health care they need and see them do better long term.”

There are four phases of clinical trials, according to Judy Kroulek, lead clinical research coordinator for CHARM. Phase one is a series of trials conducted on healthy young men when the drug has been deemed safe to test on humans. Phase two brings in small numbers of patients with the condition the drug is designed to treat, and trials are done in a tightly controlled group. Phase three begins trials on large numbers of people to test the drug to determine overall effectiveness and side effects. Finally, phase four is the post-marketing phase, once the drug is approved by the FDA, and the drug company begins to expand its usage.

“CHARM does work in phases two through four, with the majority of our work in phase three,” Kroulek said. “We bring patients in, and if they meet the criteria for the case, they are randomized into the study.”

The local practice’s recent studies include medicines for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight loss, asthma and more. Studies range anywhere from a few weeks to five years depending on the protocol determined by the sponsor of the drug being tested, said Kroulek.

Dr. Ryan treats patients through the course of their study and cares for them in the event of any adverse effects. As an internal medicine physician, he is skilled and knowledgeable in both treating patients and working as primary investigator for CHARM. “We get to know these people and care for them,” Kroulek said. “We follow them until the end of the study, and their care comes at no cost to them.”

All data tracking, lab work and patient care is done at CHARM’s office in the Diagnostic Center at Parkridge Hospital. Kroulek said her goal is to make the environment as unlike a doctor’s office as possible.

A lounge area for drinks and TV watching is set up for patients who have long appointments involving lab work so they can relax, and the office is filled with friendly shamrocks centered around CHARM’s theme of luck and to help share a bit of Dr. Ryan’s Irish background.

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“I try to make wait times as short as possible by having the rooms ready for patients when they arrive for their appointments,” Kroulek said. The majority of patients for studies come to CHARM through local physician’s referrals, but the group is now branching out into the general community. Potential patients can visit charmresearch.com to learn more and see if they qualify for current and coming clinical trials.

More Information

CHARM is located on the third floor of the Diagnostic Center at Parkridge Hospital at 2205 McCallie Ave. For more information call 423-643-2253 or visit charmresearch.com.

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