Clinical Trials Nexus 2023 Reflections: The Clinical Trial Industry and Vendors

Phase 1 Clinical Trials, Early Phase Clinical Trials

Author: Lona Sheeran, SVP, Clinical Operations, Early Phase

At this year’s Clinical Trials Nexus, I had the privilege of representing Worldwide Clinical Trials as the sole CRO on a panel discussion: “Reversing the Conversation: What the Clinical Trial Industry Really Wants from its Service Providers.” Among the panel participants included representatives from Teva, Blue Rock Therapeutics, and BMS.

I feel fortunate to have a unique perspective on this subject, as I serve as a vendor for a the pharmaceutical industry while also utilizing vendors to help support studies at Worldwide, whether it’s a central cardiac lab or an external clinical lab. While we often discuss what sponsors need from clinical sites or CROs, we don’t talk about what we want from our vendors as frequently. Although the discussion was full of fascinating insights, some themes came up from the panel included the following:

  1. Balancing Act: Quality and Speed
    When considering the urgency to bring new treatments to market, speed is an integral aspect of clinical trial execution especially in the Phase 1 environment. Vendors that seamlessly integrate with CROs, delivering services in a timely manner, regardless of which phase the clinical trial is in, can significantly help maintain drug development timelines. However, speed must not compromise quality; adherence to regulatory standards and the production of reliable, quality data are non-negotiable.
  1. Revitalizing Customer Service
    In the wake of a post-COVID world, a concerning trend has emerged – a decline in the customer service mentality among vendors. Responsive and honest communication is paramount. With so much on the line when it comes to clinical trials, establishing partnerships with vendors who are transparent about timelines and current capabilities is vital. At the end of the day – sponsors and CROs want to work with vendors they trust.
  1. Vendors Are Here to Stay
    The resounding message from the panel was the acknowledgment that no single organization possesses all the expertise required to complete a clinical trial from start to finish. Vendors are no longer just companies you outsource to – they become an extension of your team and are a fundamental component of the clinical development program. Whether it’s outsourcing one role such as an anesthesiologist to conduct lumbar punctures, or partnering with a vendor for a site, the chances that you will need a vendor in some capacity during your trial, whether it’s Phase 1 or Phase 3, is very likely.

While the panel covered various insights regarding the clinical trial industry and its service providers, these three themes stood out most prominently. The delicate balance of speed and quality, the importance of customer service in a changing landscape, and the evolution of vendor relationships all play vital roles in shaping the future dynamics of the clinical trial industry. As we look ahead, it will be interesting to see how these dynamics continue to evolve in the coming years and I look forward to participating in future discussions.

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