Clinical Trials Day

May 16, 2018

May 20th is recognized as International Clinical Trials day, to commemorate the first controlled clinical trial, conducted by Dr. James Lind.

May 20, 1747, Dr. Lind was a British surgeon aboard the HMS Salisbury for the British Royal Navy who took the opportunity to test a better way to treat the common problem of scurvy that had befallen 12 shipmates. Lind divided the sailors into groups of two. “They all in general had putrid gums, the spots and lassitude, with weakness of knees,” he wrote in his 1753 paper A Treatise on the Scurvy. The sick men were isolated from the rest of the crew, and given the same rations. He gave different treatments to each of the pairs. The treatments were cider, a few drops of a weak acid, vinegar, sea-water, nutmeg and barley water, or oranges and lemons. After 6 days, the two men who ate the oranges and lemons were well and fit for duty. The other men were still “weak in the knees.”

In 2003, Royal College of Physicians established The James Lind Library to commemorate 250th anniversary of publication of Dr. Lind’s pioneering contribution “Treatise on Scurvy”. The publicity and popularity of the James Lind Library has made 20 May to be designated International Clinical Trials Day, because James Lind’s celebrated controlled trial began on that day in 1747.5

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