It’s not simply an issue of supply and demand. It’s closer to life and death. Put bluntly, we may not be able to keep up with future clinical trial demand because our workforce isn’t growing fast enough. In fact, by some metrics, we’re already falling behind.
It can be overwhelming to keep up with the rapid pace of health technology advancement; in many ways, it feels like we’re just along for the ride. Let’s fast forward and take a look into three key areas of innovation that are forcing us to face and embrace a changing technological landscape in clinical research.
Clinical research associate (CRA) turnover has long been a complex and challenging issue. We can recruit more CRAs, increase publicity in colleges, and introduce assessment standards. I could quote various statistics regarding turnover, but I won’t.
Fall is in the air, and Halloween is just around the corner. I always associate Halloween with “The Wizard of Oz.” When I grew up, Halloween meant reruns of the movie and was a highly anticipated annual family viewing event. Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West, those creepy flying monkeys, and, of course, the Wizard. We all had our favorite characters, and my poor parents had to contend with my post-movie nightmares for days. But it’s the Cowardly Lion who’s been on my mind recently.
A range of factors — including small patient populations, complex manufacturing processes, and lack of specialized expertise — are positioned to both drive up costs and require new options for stakeholder engagement and risk sharing along the development pathway. New approaches in development are needed to support the next generation of novel drugs on the horizon.
Around the holidays, I reminisce about family dinners: three generations under one roof for a few hours, catching up on the past year. My mother presided over the festivities for several decades until her passing. For 10 years, she was a survivor of a rare cancer. She had two surgical resections and treatments before the cancer returned. There was only one approved orphan drug, which was 50 percent effective in decreasing mortality for six months. There weren’t many options in clinical trials and no Internet patient-centric community for information and support.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $3.5 million settlement against Primex Clinical Laboratories, a California laboratory providing clinical diagnostic testing services. As if that multimillion-dollar fine was not ominous enough, the DOJ announced another settlement in the same press release: It had imposed a $270,000 fine against the CEO of a related pharmacogenetics testing facility. The alleged wrongdoing centered on “sham” clinical trials, purportedly designed to mask improper payments to physicians who ordered pharmacogenetics tests.
In his recent column, Jim Kremidas, executive director of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, challenged the industry to address the need to raise the standards of professionalism of the clinical research workforce To say that Jim has been obsessed about helping the industry understand the impact that variance in personnel performance has on the quality conduct of clinical research and ultimately, the patient experience, would be an understatement.
Leading a clinical trial at a research site as an investigator is a challenging task. Running a successful study requires the ability to manage budgets, coordinate the activities of support teams, efficiently allocate limited time and resources, and navigate the complexities of regulations and reporting obligations.
According to a common refrain, blockchain will “transform” and “disrupt” the life sciences industry. While the technology’s applications in industries such as banking and broader financial services are readily apparent and, in fact, already being adopted, tangible applications in the life sciences prove more nebulous.