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Big Pharma: Investing Boldly in Advertising and Profits, Not R&D
| July 15, 2019
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Article | March 4, 2020
Everyone in pharma knows that product success depends on the results of clinical trials — but we don’t usually hear from the people who are involved in running them. Recently, four Clinical Research Managers (CRM) from Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) discussed how Merck is overcoming the barriers to clinical trial recruitment by adopting a patient-centric process — a model that affects their trials top to bottom, from design through implementation. Each of the panel members manages clinical trials, serving as the main point of interaction with the Clinical Research Associates (CRAs) on research requirements, goals, and resources, including recruiting and retention.
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.
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.
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.
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