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Hopkins works to shorten time needed for drug approvals

​Federal approval for a new drug can take a decade or more, but researchers at the Johns Hopkins University are studying a way to shave years off the process for medications designed for serious outbreaks of flu, Ebola or other infectious diseases.

The researchers want to conduct trials in emergency rooms where large numbers of people sick with these sometimes deadly diseases often end up. The doctors are poised to launch a trial run at Hopkins during the coming flu season — and using already approved antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu — to show volunteers can quickly and properly be pooled in such environments. 

"Normally you do trials in doctors' offices or inpatient wards with 100 or 200 sites often needed over several seasons because each site may only enroll one to three people," said Dr. Richard Rothman, a professor of emergency medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who is co-leading the study. "Here in the emergency department, a lot of people come in sick. That creates an opportunity."