Improve CRO and Pharmaceutical Companies Relationships to Drive better Clinical Trial Results

Pharma IQ News

Ahead of the China Bio/Pharmaceutical and Clinical Supply Chain Convention 2013 to be held on the 16-17 January 2013 at the Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel in Beijing, Pharma IQ interviewed Ma Jingdong, Medical Director at Mundipharma China on what he thinks CROs and pharmaceutical companies can do to improve their relationship to achieve better clinical trial results.

Mr Ma stressed that both Contract Research Organisations (CROs) and pharmaceuticals companies had room for improvement, and we’ve split his responses into what each party can do.

Additionally, we asked Mr Ma for his opinions about the Chinese clinical trial supply market and what he thinks will happen in the next 2-3 years.

What pharmaceutical companies can do to improve their relationship with CROs to achieve better clinical trial outcomes:

• Dedicated Personnel

Mr Ma said because pharmaceutical companies are the ones responsible for initiating a clinical trial project, they need to ensure they have sufficient resources to handle a project and dedicate experienced personnel to deal with CROs.
“From a pharmaceutical company point of view, they need to have professional project managers to handle the projects and facilitate communication with CROs,” said Mr Ma.
Adequate preparation and resourcing is often the most important aspect to clinical trials success. Not only does it help pharmaceutical companies recognise the scope of their project, but also helps CROs understand exactly what they need to deliver.
• Open Communication

Communication is critical to all project delivery and is the responsibility of all involved stakeholders, but in the case of clinical trials, Mr Ma believes this responsibility lies more with pharmaceutical companies.

He said a lack of open communication not only affects the relationship between CROs and pharmaceutical companies, but also project outcomes.

“Any changes in the delivery time or timeframe of projects need to be communicated to CROs – and this lies with pharmaceutical companies. If this information is not transferred and agreed on, it compromises the project and the trust between the two parties.”
• Talent Retention 

The shortage of experienced project managers in China is not new, but it is a continued for challenge pharmaceutical companies if they want to improve the quality of their clinical trials.

“The lack of talent who can handle these projects means it is very difficult for pharmaceutical companies to take true ownership of their projects,” said Mr Ma.
Whilst there is a lack of experienced project managers in China, it represents an opportunity for companies to train their own staff. Successful Talent retention comes down to pharmaceutical companies investing in their employees and training them to imbue them with new skills and abilities.

What CROs can do to improve their relationship with pharmaceutical companies to achieve better clinical trial outcomes:

  •   Don’t commit to projects early on:
As the party responsible for executing clinical trial projects, CROs are much like an agency to pharmaceutical companies. This means CROs need to set realistic expectations for their clients to avoid compromising the project and their own corporate reputation.

“A lot of CROs will claim they can deliver certain things, when they actually can’t. Whether it’s meeting deadlines, forecasts or cost, CROs will often commit early on without truly understanding the scale of their given projects,” said Mr Ma.

Often, many CROs will agree to projects with the aim short term financial gains. However, Mr Ma said if they commit to projects they cannot deliver, they risk damaging their reputation.

“The reputation of a CRO hinges upon whether or not they can deliver a clinical trial project successfully. If they can’t deliver what is expected of them by pharmaceutical companies, then it’s ultimately not good for reputation in long term,” he said.

CROs will be doing themselves and their clients a favour if they get more insight about a project up front because it means project expectation and deliverables are clear from the start. Ultimately, this comes down to CROs wanting to deliver projects within client demands and keep their clients satisfied.

How Mr Ma sees the Chinese clinical trial market in the next 2- 3 years:

Mr Ma believes that there are too many clinical trials happening in China now and anticipates the market will become leaner over the next few years as barriers to entry rise.
Whilst the number of trials might not fluctuate greatly, increased expectations from pharmaceutical companies combined with tighter government regulations could improve the quality of clinical trials. “There might be more trials due to the increasing market size, but it will take more time for clinical trials to take place because of increasing government regulations,” said Mr Ma.

“As higher quality assurance and quality control systems become commonplace, trials will be more difficult to control. The next 2-3 years will ultimately see a reorganisation of the clinical trial industry.”
Hear more from Mr Ma and the panel of clinical trial supply experts from China as they discuss Improving communication between pharmaceutical companies and CROs to meet each other’s expectations and to achieve better results in clinical trials at China Bio/Pharmaceutical and Clinical Supply Chain Convention 2013.

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