If rheumatology organizations could be assigned human characteristics, OMERACT (which stands for Outcome Measures in Rheumatology, formerly Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials) would be the family’s divergent thinker. It has now been 16 years since the first international conference to achieve consensus about outcomes measures in rheumatology took place. Every two years since 1992, OMERACT has been providing an intellectual forum where an international community of clinicians, scientists, and regulatory, industry, and patient representatives sits down as equals to hammer out agreement on common endpoints to be used in clinical trials in the rheumatic diseases.
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Explore This IssueFebruary 2008
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Like nurturing parents, OMERACT’s five executive committee members are justifiably proud, and even a bit amazed, at the way in which OMERACT’s unique organizational structure continues to build on its initial mission. Peter Brooks, MD, executive dean of health sciences at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, one of the original OMERACT founders and a current executive committee member, says, “Most organizations have to reinvent themselves after about a decade. But OMERACT doesn’t seem to have had to do that. It’s been 16 years and we’re still going strong and still expanding.”
Lee S. Simon, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston and another executive committee member, says, “I’m involved in many other groups, and this has been the largest effort to be open of any group I’ve ever seen.”
TR talked recently with several of the founders and members of OMERACT to solicit their reflections on the organization’s purpose, accomplishments, and future opportunities and challenges.
Why the Need?
For a specialty in which international collaborations and a focus on outcomes seem relatively common today, why would an initiative such as OMERACT be needed? In 1990, it was a different story. At that time, outcomes measurement was a huge challenge in clinical trials, says Vibeke Strand, MD, clinical professor of medicine in the division of immunology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and another OMERACT executive committee member. Researchers in North America used different trial endpoints from their colleagues in Europe and regulatory agencies did not accept results of trials from countries other than their own.