Article | March 26, 2020
If you’re part of a clinical study team racing a new product to commercialization, you likely live by these two simple rules: time is money, and the first one to market wins. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. That ticking clock is background noise to the responsibilities of regulations, study protocols, supply chains, and patient recruitment — all the details that must be worked out before a study can even begin. The pressure is always there. The longer it takes for a study to start, the longer it takes to complete.
Article | April 20, 2021
For much of the past three decades, even as methodologies for clinical trial design have advanced and refined, the idea of the optimized clinical trial has centered on optimal patient samples, target enrollment rates, and generally the most efficient uses of scarce resources in the form of patients. Yet anyone who has had to design and optimize a clinical trial, knows that trial optimization occurs within an ecosystem of choices; a series of choices that stretch from the time it takes to implement a clinical trial and submit clinical data for analysis, to general concerns about the cost and power of a clinical trial. A true clinical trial optimization process would try to unify a number of these choices into a single framework for trial optimization.
The complexity of clinical trial optimization comes from the need to align priorities on the one hand, and to understand opportunities on the other. We know that at a very general level, clinical operations specialists benefit from simplicity in clinical trial design, and that commercial teams prefer shorter clinical trials to longer ones. We also know that the statistical design of a clinical trial can influence both simplicity and duration. Yet how many sponsors have their clinical operations and commercial teams, sit with their R&D teams to review various statistically nuanced design options?
For many sponsors, the reason this process does not occur as often as it should, is because the nuanced statistical parameters of a clinical trial design are very difficult to communicate to non-statisticians. Yet a trial optimization tool like Solara, equipped with data visualizations and the ability to see tradeoffs intuitively, can overcome this challenge. The real challenge is often convincing the non-statistician that they have a stake in clinical trial design.
Cytel recently had a client that thought it needed a sample size re-estimation design, because it had a very strict limit on the number of patients it could enroll. After a few hours of working with Solara, though, a statistician discovered that a much simpler Group Sequential Design would deliver comparable power using about the same number of patients. The gains from the more complex design were minimal from the optimization perspective, when understood as the eco-system of choices.
Similarly, most commercial teams pressure their clinical trial designers to have the most accelerated clinical trial imaginable, but as we all know, the longer the clinical trial the more likely there will be a higher number of events that demonstrate the effectiveness of a new medicine. So commercialization teams have a stake in longer clinical trials, even when their rule of thumb is to shorten them.
Therefore, it is absolutely essential to communicate the benefits of various statistical designs to multiple stakeholders in a way that makes tradeoffs clear. Aligning on priorities early during the clinical trial design process is essential to selecting the optimal clinical trial. Yet for this statisticians need to be equipped for both a strategic and communicative role in the R&D process.
Article | August 18, 2021
In a way, getting through the initial stages of a complex pharmaceutical project that is being outsourced to a contract development and manufacturing organization is like getting a rocket off the ground. Many drug developers express frustration with the time it often takes during the initial stages of working with a CDMO — from the time they first reach out to a CDMO for help until they receive a proposal. Some have described it as months of silence from when they send a request for proposal (RFP) until they have a proposal in hand.
The initial stages of a relationship between drug sponsor and CDMO often do not get the attention it deserves, and valuable time is lost, delaying projects and delaying delivery of therapeutics to patients. The quick scheduling of the ACT meeting with the right attendees can deliver immediate answers to key questions needed by the drug sponsor for effective planning and can help propel projects to a successful launch.
Article | March 11, 2020
Over the past half-century, clinical trials have grown increasingly complex. A flood of new data from novel sources combined with more elaborate study designs and tougher regulatory standards have lengthened timelines and hiked costs, contributing to a steady decline of efficiency. It all adds up: Nearly half of all drug launches underperform revenue expectations. And if that isn’t enough, the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide is having an effect on how life sciences companies operate their businesses, including how clinical trials are conducted. Most clinical trial research organizations have tried to adapt by tweaking a platform here, adding a new app there, but this has only yielded patchwork systems of sites, spreadsheets and dashboards that further burden the process.