Dublin, Ireland-based contract research organization (CRO) ICON is partnering with MedAvante, a provider of psychological rating services, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of central nervous system (CNS) clinical trials.
CNS trials, which generally test drugs designed to treat mental disorders, are often difficult to monitor because of bias and variability in the assessment process. Because of this variability, CNS trials often require large patient populations and can result in uninformative or failed studies. MedAvante, which was founded in 2002, offers a centralized and standardized process for assessing CNS trials.
“One of the things that I found very interesting when we first started to talk with MedAvante was the concept of really increasing the accuracy of the assessments in the CNS area and also ensuring that you have the right patient enrollment into the study. These are two of the largest reasons for some of the imprecision in the CNS studies that are being conducted,” said Malcolm Burgess, ICON's executive vice president of strategic development and global administration.
ICON’s alliance with MedAvante will enable the CRO to offer new services to clients developing drugs to treat CNS-related therapeutic areas.
“It should ideally enable us to be able to be more accurate with our patient selection and should ultimately allow smaller sample sizes in CNS studies, which will enable us to move products through the development cycle faster and get effective medicines to the market faster,” Burgess said.
Neither company released the financial terms of the agreement, which is non-exclusive. Although there is no end date to the agreement, Burgess said the two companies are working together under the assumption that, if the alliance yields increased business, they will continue to work together for the foreseeable future.
ICON has done 458 CNS trials over the last five years, involving more than 70,000 patients. The CRO currently has 56 ongoing CNS studies and 41 ongoing psychiatric studies.
“From an ICON point of view, what we want to do is to always be improving our services to our clients, and I think this centralized monitoring has the potential to allow us to develop the drugs faster and get them to market quicker, which obviously is a benefit to both our clients and also the patients at large,” Burgess said.
The MedAvante partnership will not affect any ICON trials already in progress, but MedAvante’s capabilities will be offered to clients for future trials.
“For studies that this approach is appropriate, we will be discussing that with clients during the proposal and discussion phase, so really it’s going to affect new studies that we win going forward,” Burgess said.