Partnership with Pfizer, Novartis and Lilly boosts U.K.-based TrialReach’s presence in U.S. market
Less than two years after a trio of large pharmaceutical companies partnered to develop the Patients to Trials Consortium, they have outsourced the consortium to TrialReach, a British company further along with a similar online clinical trials matching service.
“It’s exciting to work with these three pharmaceutical sponsors directly, as we all had the same goal of enabling people to match their individual medical needs with a specific trial in a more patient-centric way,” said Pablo Graiver, co-founder and CEO of London-based TrialReach.
Pfizer, Novartis and Eli Lilly formed the consortium to build a more personal and convenient way for patients to search for clinical trials, find information about research more quickly and understand their medical needs and match them with available trials nearby.
For TrialReach, the partnership offers the opportunity to expand its presence in the U.S. clinical trials market. Currently it has U.S. operations in New York.
Recent surveys show that while 94% of the public recognize participation in clinical research is important to advance medical science, 74% say they have no real knowledge of the clinical research process. About 98% do not know where and how to identify and evaluate appropriate clinical studies for chronic diseases, according to data from the Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), a nonprofit that educates and informs the public, patients, medical and research communities about clinical research and the role each plays in the process.
Even if patients are knowledgeable enough to search online for information about clinical trials, they often find a maze of medical jargon that it is almost impossible to understand and use to make important decisions.
The consequence: almost half of all trials never reach their recruitment goal—a statistic that prompted the three sponsors to partner on a new platform to improve access to information about clinical trials.
“We soon realized that to attract people to clinical trials, it would have to be an everyday care option and a very accessible process,” said Kathy Vandebelt, senior director, clinical development innovation at Eli Lilly, speaking at IIR’s recent Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference in Boston. “That’s what we found in TrialReach, as they had lots of free services for patients, great connections with patient organizations and a therapeutic focus versus a company-level focus, which speaks to the patient.”
Graiver told conference attendees the more a person knows about his/her medical history, the better the responses. A typical search can take as little as 10 to 15 minutes using the Question-Based Matching Service, which processes the inclusion/exclusion criteria of all available trials, ranks them by importance and dynamically generates questions in plain English to help patients find the few trials that truly matter to that patient.
Gravier showed, in real time, how a patient with small cell lung cancer might use their search capabilities on a laptop. The computer showed an initial list of 381 small cell lung cancer trials nationwide, then prompted the user to enter his location. For Santa Monica, Calif., the search then showed 113 area trials. Graiver stressed the system is not a pre-screener. Prompted for the user’s age, 35 years old reduced the search to 110 trials. Asked for the stage of the cancer, Gravier typed metastatic. Other questions included whether he had had chemotherapy treatments. The more detailed the answers provided, the lower the number of matching trials. For the demo, the final number of matching trials was 21.
The TrialReach platform, which is incorporating the software developed by Eli Lilly for the consortium, includes detailed and patient-friendly information about the trials. It includes a machine readable “target health profile” to improve the ability of the software to match individual health profiles to applicable clinical trials.
The three sponsors agreed to create target profiles in areas in which they have therapeutic similarities, such as type 2 diabetes and specific autoimmune diseases, with the expectation other sponsors will participate based on the same software capabilities.
“We had an understanding that we were going to find an independent trusted party, like TrialReach, that allows the market to drive the innovations. This system is open to many other companies with clinical trials seeking a better way to find patient volunteers,” said David Leventhal, Pfizer’s director of clinical innovation, worldwide R&D.
The TrialReach platform is open and free to all research teams, academic institutions and patients. It also is free for sponsors to list their trials. TrialReach derives its income through separate agreements with pharma and biotech companies and CROs to find and engage patients to participate in specific trials, along with analytics, said Graiver. These contracts often are to complete trial enrollment for a sponsor. He said income from these deals over the past 12 months have totaled several million dollars.
To attract patients to the web site, TrialReach is spreading the word to various medical groups, associations, hospitals, patient community portals and web sites.
Founded six years ago, TrialReach currently does most of its business in the U.S. Its thousands of clinical trial listings come from various sources including the NIH, ClinicalTrials.gov, the World Health Organization and large pharma companies. In addition, the company said it reaches millions of patients online through partnerships with health portals including Healthline, Everyday Health and CenterWatch, as well as patient networks and Facebook patient communities.
“The idea for us—the consortium and TrialReach—is not to take millions of dollars in advertising to produce clinical trial campaigns that drive traffic to us,” said Graiver. “Instead, we want to take trials to where patients are, which we think makes more sense.”
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