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Outsourcing clinical trial services for patient recruitment

by WilliamJohanna

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The final stage in the development of a new drug brings with it an equal measure of anxiety and exhilaration. The company is exhilarated because it's only a heartbeat away from launching a brand new drug into the market after many months of development. The company is nonetheless anxious because of the final task ahead - that of conducting a clinical trial of the drug to convince the public and regulators that the new drug is safe and effective in doing what it's meant to do.


What is it about a clinical trial that makes pharmaceutical executives sweat so much? Clinical trials are very involving and often have to be conducted within strict timelines and with limited resources. Patient recruitment consumes up to one-third of the time allocated to a clinical trial and is by far the most challenging task in a clinical trial. Patient recruitment practically determines the success or failure of a clinical trial. Knowing this, executives pay much attention to patient recruitment with the hope of getting it right the first time.


To make things easier for the drug company, executives often hire clinical trial services to do clinical trial recruitment and other activities related to the trials on their behalf. Companies that outsource patient trial recruitment often save themselves a lot of hassle. There are indeed situations where outsourcing becomes imperative - not an option. One such situation is when a company is venturing into a therapeutic area that it has no previous experience in. A company entering a new drug segment will not have any knowledge base to rely on. The executives won't know which patients to recruit and where to find them. Such companies benefit a lot by working hand in hand with clinical trial services firms that have extensive experience in recruitment.


The second scenario in which drug companies have no option but to outsource clinical trial recruitment services is when they need to carry out trials in territories where they have never been before. For instance, a company might want to test a drug in a foreign country where it has never carried out any trials before. Conducting a clinical trial in a place you haven't been before is to say the least very challenging and patient recruitment will definitely be the toughest challenge. However, by partnering with a locally-based patient trial services provider, the company will have a simpler task. For instance, one hurdle that has to be overcome is the language barrier. On its own, a company will not get its message across to the community effectively. It can however make communication easier by partnering with local consultants who speak the local language.


Another situation where drug companies have to outsource clinical trial recruitment is when they are dealing with very rare conditions. Finding enough patients with rare conditions for a clinical trial is an uphill task. A company could spend many months scouring the country before it has the sufficient numbers it wants. Patient trial services only require a fraction of the time to supply a list of patients because they have useful contacts on the ground whose involvement will expedite the recruitment process.



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