Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Accelerating Clinical Trials: Strategies to Improve Efficiency

Just read an interesting article on the outsourcing of clinical trials by pharmas to third-party vendors. This outsourcing trend has proven beneficial for the pharmaceutical companies in several ways but at the same time has introduced a number of time delays in the drug trial process that are proving very costly for the sponsor companies. The article estimates that losses due to delayed release of a single candidate drug are $600K to $8M per day, making even minor delays in the trial process extremely costly.

The article addresses three ways in which the current clinical trial system can be optimized; patient recruitment, budgeting and performance assessments, and clinical operations structure and workflow.

Being involved in marketing, I found the patient recruitment aspect of the problem most interesting. Patient recruitment consumes over 30% of the trial process, resulting in delayed approval and millions of dollars in lost revenue for the sponsoring pharmaceutical company.

"Survey respondents ranked “time to completion of a trial” and “time to enroll a target number of patients” as the measures with the greatest ability to affect organizational change and clinical trial strategic and operational decision-making."

Given my background, I can think of a number of ways that search engine optimization techniques could be used to significantly improve patient recruitment efforts, primarily through the targeting of patients' keyword searches relating to the tested condition, drug, and trial location. Currently pharmas devote just 6-8% of the total trial budget to patient recruitment. This seems like an area that with additional resources and some novel marketing strategies could deliver excellent results for pharmaceutical companies.

Accelerating Clinical Trials: Strategies to Improve Efficiency