Survey: Sanofi, IQVIA Took Top Spots on Reputation with Sites Last Year
Sites ranked Sanofi and IQVIA as the most highly regarded sponsor and CRO in 2021, according to a new WCG CenterWatch survey.
Sanofi once again topped the list of sponsors by overall reputation, a measure of sites’ general opinions of them whether or not they had directly worked together, having previously taken the top spot in 2019. Bayer gained ground, going from the 14th spot in 2019 to second place and making it to the top 10 for the first time. Similarly, Pfizer shot up from 10th place in 2019 to the third spot in the survey.
Following Pfizer were, in order of rank, Roche, Novartis, Merck, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Janssen and Boehringer Ingelheim, which made its first-ever appearance in the top 10 in the CenterWatch Global Site Relationship Benchmark Survey, which garnered more than 3,700 responses about 53 sponsors and 27 CROs.
IQVIA took first place among CROs in terms of overall reputation rating, moving up from its seventh-place spot in the 2019 survey to barely beat out Covance. Sites also viewed PPD and PRA more favorably; the pair made it back to the top 10 after just falling out of it in 2019, taking fifth and sixth place, respectively. Novotech was ranked ninth by overall reputation while WCCT earned tenth place, its first time in the top 10. ICON improved with sites, moving to third place from fifth, as did Medpace, moving up two spots to seventh place. Parexel held on to its fourth-place position, while Syneos slid down five places to rank eighth in overall reputation in 2021.
For sponsors, sites ranked two protocol-related attributes — designing patient-friendly protocols and having protocols in which scientific rationale aligns with clinical practice realities — in the top 10 for the first time, demonstrating that they want sponsors to make protocols less complex, more patient-centric and practical.
Data have shown a problematic rise in the number of protocol amendments, data points and trial endpoints, and because these contribute significantly to slower startup times, sponsors have been put under pressure to adapt to this troubling trend. In the meantime, sites have been exploring ways to decrease trial initiation times, but it’s evident they want sponsors to simplify their trial designs. Tellingly, sites feel that sponsors still have work to do on their protocol designs. Only 48 percent of sponsors were ranked excellent in delivering patient-friendly protocols, while just 53 and 50 percent were excellent in providing good overall protocol designs and clinically practical protocols, respectively.
The top 10 sponsor attributes named by sites this year (three of which pertain specifically to trial protocols) are:
- Has professional, knowledgeable and well-trained monitors/clinical research assistants (CRAs);
- Is organized and prepared;
- Provides good overall protocol design;
- Provides timely drug availability;
- Is responsive to inquiries;
- Designs patient-friendly protocols;
- Has protocols in which scientific rationale is aligned with clinical practice realities;
- Maintains open communication;
- Staff is easily accessible for escalation of issues and provides timely, appropriate resolution; and
- Has professional medical staff in clinical operations.
Sites feel that sponsors aren’t making the grade on some of the most important attributes. While 56 percent of sites ranked delivering patient-friendly protocols as very important, less than half (48 percent) of sponsors were considered excellent in that area. Similarly, 61 percent of sites strongly desired good overall protocol design from sponsors, but only 53 percent of sponsors were seen as excellent in doing so. And for protocols with scientific rationale in touch with clinical practice realities, 56 percent of sites named the attribute as very important while only half of sponsors received an excellent rating. Protocol/study design and planning as a category was very important to half of responding sites, but slightly less than half (48 percent) of sponsors were rated as doing a great job on it.
Sponsors’ overall performance went down slightly this year compared to CenterWatch’s 2019 survey, and while sites in that survey called for various improvements, sponsors don’t appear to have improved or met their expectations. Sponsor performance in all attributes dropped to 50 percent of sites rating them excellent compared to 53 percent in the 2019 survey.
For CROs, the survey showed that sites consider providing adequate trial staff training support to now be one of their top 10 most important attributes. These attributes were similar to the ones for sponsors, but instead of protocol-related attributes, sites named effectively working with sponsors and setting realistic project timelines as key characteristics for CROs in addition to helping on training.
Despite the newfound importance placed on training support, less than half of CROs (43 percent) were ranked as doing an excellent job on this, the second-lowest performance score in the top 10 after setting realistic project timelines (42 percent). The survey findings suggest that CROs can do a lot better on all of the top 10 attributes, with no quality exceeding 47 percent in excellence.
Since the last survey was conducted in 2019, CRO excellence on the top 10 attributes either declined, stayed the same or only slightly increased. For instance, they were ranked the same on being organized and prepared (46 percent of CROs rated excellent), barely improved on being responsive to inquiries (increasing from 43 to 44 percent), slightly improved on having professional medical staff in clinical operations (increasing from 45 to 47 percent) and did significantly worse on setting realistic project timelines (going from 49 to 42 percent).
CROs received the highest rankings on having professional medical staff in clinical operations (47 percent of CROs ranked as excellent), followed by being organized and prepared, effectively working with sponsors, maintaining open communication and having professional, knowledgeable and well-trained monitors/CRAs, all of which came in at 46 percent.
The attributes that received the lowest performance ratings were: having low monitor turnover (monitor staff does not keep changing): 39 percent; providing protocols that require minimal amendments: 40 percent; providing uncomplicated case report form design: 40 percent; providing adequate funding for patient recruitment: 40 percent; and being flexible and willing to modify protocols and budgets: 41 percent.
For a copy of the reports, click here: https://www.centerwatch.com/products/555.