PharmaSeek has launched a new business called The Oncology Hub, an initiative to bring together sponsors, CROs, academic research institutions, major medical centers, oncology networks and stand-alone oncology sites in order to assist with site identification for complex clinical trials.
Nick Cindric, the company’s chief executive officer, said the growing needs in the field of oncology led to the launch of the initiative.
“If you look at the numbers, oncology-related compounds represent roughly a third of the drugs in development,” he said. “We are excited about providing a unique service offering to support sponsors, CROs and sites that are conducting research in this area.”
Michael Brodie, account executive for business development at PharmaSeek, elaborated on the strategy behind the launch.
“Oncology has become a therapeutic area where it is increasingly difficult to identify qualified and experienced sites,” he said. “In contrast, of the sites that do have the capabilities and interest, it has become more difficult to find key personnel at the sponsor or CRO level who are able to provide clinical trials that may be of interest to the institutions. The Oncology Hub provides a common meeting place where the research institution has the ability to approach the sponsor/CRO directly for a study for which they feel they are qualified. In addition to oncology studies, The Oncology Hub identifies cardiology, pediatrics and other inpatient studies.”
PharmaSeek General Manager Lindsay McCarthy described The Oncology Hub—which can be found at www.theoncologyhub.com—as “a collaborative idea” that came about “after years of feedback from sponsors and CROs saying that they need better access to institutions and researchers who have the capability to conduct complex clinical trials.” She said it will provide direct access to new study opportunities to researchers who have had difficulty finding them in the past.
“The process begins when our dedicated business development team identifies a study,” said McCarthy. “We pass along the study information to the institutions. From there, the institution works with the sponsor or CRO through the selection process. What we are most excited about is the opportunities this will create for the patients. The Oncology Hub provides access to clinical trials for researchers looking for alternative treatments, therefore benefiting the patients.
“Specifically in oncology, these patients do not necessarily have standard lines of treatment. Oncology clinical trials are another option for those patients that haven’t seen progression. Additionally, the institution can benefit from a larger study pipeline and increased revenue.”
McCarthy explained that all of the information pertaining to The Oncology Hub is communicated electronically and via email.
“We keep a portal of all study information for sites to access study specifics,” she said. “We have a CDA [confidential disclosure agreement] in place with all sites receiving study leads, so everyone is covered from a confidentiality standpoint.”
“The Oncology Hub is made to serve both the sponsor/CRO as well as the major research institutions. It is intended to be an additional resource the sponsor/CRO can utilize to potentially identify additional PIs [principal investigators] of which they are not yet aware,” said Brodie. “It is also an additional business development resource for academic medical centers, major medical centers, oncology research networks and stand-alone oncology sites looking to expand their industry-sponsored clinical trial pipeline.”
Brodie added that 32 research institutions already have signed up for the service, which officially launched at last month’s MAGI West conference in San Diego. He said there is no cost to a sponsor or CRO to post clinical trials on The Oncology Hub, although there is a “variable subscription cost” to the institution dependent on an institution assessment call.
“Based on preliminary conversations we have had with sponsors, CROs and sites, we have received very positive feedback,” he noted. “We are not trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather, we are trying to fill a specific need. We understand that qualified and experienced research institutions are looking to fill their pipeline and need a resource to assist. Based on the feedback we have been getting for years, we know that sponsors and CROs struggle to find quality sites for their more difficult clinical trials.
“We are building off our experience and relationships that are already in place through the PharmaSeek Investigative Site Network (ISN) in order to match the sponsor, CRO and research institution together in an efficient manner, ultimately ensuring a successful clinical trial.”
The Oncology Hub currently is offered only domestically, but McCarthy said expansion is possible.
“We plan on focusing on the U.S. in the short term, both to increase the amount of studies The Oncology Hub provides and to increase the amount of institutions in the network,” she said. “We are also in discussions about expansion of services that The Oncology Hub offers. In the future, we hope to develop a complete portfolio of offerings for the research centers with which we partner.”
Wisconsin-based PharmaSeek, which was founded 20 years ago, partners with sponsors and CROs to identify clinical research sites for clinical trials. It initially began as a group of a dozen Midwestern research sites and since has grown into a network of about 250 investigative research sites located throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. The network includes research facilities, multispecialty practices and academic institutions. Taken as a whole, PharmaSeek-affiliated sites practice research in nearly every therapeutic area.
PharmaSeek operates as an ISN, which means that unlike a site management organization, it does not maintain an equity ownership in its investigative research sites, nor do the sites own any part of PharmaSeek.
This article was reprinted from Volume 19, Issue 46, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »