Article | February 27, 2020
We go into a doctor’s office and leave with a diagnosis and a prescription. Next we stop by the pharmacy. In Germany, if your insurance is not private, you mostly don’t even know the price of your drug because it’s paid for directly by your insurance. You only notice the 5-10 Euros copay. But how is a drug priced in Germany? And (how) does data play a role in helping pharma secure an attractive price point? Let’s fast forward directly to the launch of a new drug. At the time of launch, the pharmaceutical company has to present patient level evidence of the drug’s added value compared to existing comparative therapies. In the first year, however, the drug’s price can be defined freely by the company.
Article | February 11, 2020
The drugstore chain agreed to pay $7.5 million in fines after an unlicensed pharmacist at several San Francisco Bay locations illegally filled more than 700,000 prescriptions over a ten-year period. According to California prosecutors, Kim Thien Le stole license numbers from other pharmacists to fill prescriptions for Fentanyl, morphine, and other painkillers. Le pleaded guilty to multiple felony impersonation counts. Walgreen’s agreed to the settlement to avoid being charged with consumer fraud in Alameda and Santa Anna Counties. Prosecutors alleged that Walgreen’s failed to verify Le’s license and did not conduct a thorough background check. The company insisted it has taken remedial measures.
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 | March 4, 2020
The industry as we know it is changing. Pharmaceutical and life sciences companies across the globe are experiencing more pressure than ever to keep up with increased regulatory standards while moving at a pace that requires them to innovate in order to remain competitive. With more real-time automation and the steady increase in AI and Big Data sweeping the landscape, what used to be a slow-to-change and risk-averse industry is now expected to see a significant shift towards newer technology that focus on heightened regulatory standards. Here’s how your company can get ahead of what industry experts are calling, Pharma