After 20 years of business, site management organization (SMO) Clinical Research Advantage (CRA) is expanding beyond its home base of Phoenix buying five sites in Las Vegas and plans to open a site in Omaha, Neb.
Before opening these new sites, CRA had 12 sites—all in Phoenix—but was looking to expand.
“We have a lot of sites here in Phoenix. We have sponsors that are saying, ‘If you would be in another state, we could use more of your sites. If we have 20 sites in a study, we can’t have 11 of them being in Phoenix,’” said Casey Orvin, CRA’s vice president of business development.
CRA didn’t set out specifically to be in Las Vegas, but the opportunity arose when another company ran into financial trouble.
“We got wind that [another SMO] was closing their doors, and we thought, ‘Let’s look and see if they have the potential to be as successful as we have [been] here in Phoenix,’” Orvin said.
CRA purchased the Las Vegas sites from the company and set them up using the same model as CRA’s Phoenix sites.
“We have a whole standardization that we have in place … We do consents the same at all our sites, we do source documents the same at all our sites. That’s one thing the monitors love. They can go to any Clinical Research Advantage site, and it’s going to be set up the exact same way,” Orvin said. “We kind of just want the McDonald’s feel where they’re going to get the same thing if they go into a CRA site.”
Making the Las Vegas sites fit the CRA model involved some work. The company’s Phoenix sites are all connected to physicians’ offices, but the Las Vegas locations were standalone research sites. CRA rented space next to the office of one of the company’s family practice doctors and converted it to an attached site. Patients visiting that doctor can now go directly to the research site. The company plans to do similar construction for the other four sites, which are located within Las Vegas and Henderson, a city suburb.
CRA has 58 employees and specializes in internal medicine, neurology, urology, family practice and pediatrics. Approximately 50% of the company’s business comes from vaccines, Orvin said. The Las Vegas sites focus on internal medicine, neurology, urology, pediatric neurology and family practice.
CRA is also opening a new site in Omaha and has hired a director of clinical operations there. The company hopes to begin studies in Omaha within the next several weeks.
This site won’t be the last new location for the company, Orvin said.
“We don’t want to grow too fast because that’s one thing that I think a lot of SMOs in the past—they grew too fast and just kind of lost control of a lot of things,” he said. “We very much want to keep the control and grow at a pace that we can focus on a certain area, get that up and running to where they’re successful, and then move into another geographical area. We want to be able to provide sponsors with sites in the whole Midwest region at first and possibly the whole United States eventually.”