Clinical Research / Monitoring

Continued Stability for Mid-Market Drug Development in 2021 and Beyond

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Jason Casarella, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Marketing

As 2020 comes to a close, the year will likely be remembered as one of the most, if not the most, challenging times in our personal and professional lives. A rapid global pandemic, combined with economic uncertainly and a complete interruption to our life routine, created a massive disruptive force that will reverberate for years to come.

While 2020 was certainly challenging, the drug development sector was reminded again of the near recession-proof characteristic of the profession. Although the drug industry has received some sour feedback in the past, 2020 was a turning point where the industry’s reputation soared as all eyes anticipated the progress of vaccine candidates and witnessed the coordinated efforts to perform clinical research at revolutionary speed.

As a result of the continued emphasis of outsourced drug development and record breaking biotech funding, the choice of a CRO partner is more critical in 2020 than ever before as the industry collaborates to speed safe and effective treatments to market, provide good quality jobs to a specialized workforce, and to maximize long-term shareholder value for all stakeholders. The mid-market remains the most innovative segment of pharmaceutical and biotechnology sponsors, with leading advances in areas of unmet medical need along with new areas of research, including specialized T-cell therapies and gene editing.

Now, more than ever, the selection of a credible and capable CRO partner needs to be based on several key tenets, as follows:


1. Stability matters

Although many of the ‘mega CRO’s’ were built in the early 2000’s, primarily to support large pharma and multi-year preferred provider arrangements, mid-market Sponsors have historically been under-served. The recent news of Synteract being acquired by Syneos Health showed that there continues to be a surge of interest, innovation, and opportunity within the mid-market, although acquisitions in any industry create disruption both within and external to the newly formed organization. To support this market, my advice to Sponsors is to partner with a CRO that has never been part of an acquisition but instead has grown organically, and is led by a single, unified, industry-experienced leadership team. When seeking a CRO partner, a foundation of stability and methodical growth matters, as it ensures the CRO is most focused on its clients and employees and is positioned to deliver exceptional service.


2. Culture produces value

Drug development remains a people-oriented business, although many outsiders may try to commoditize CROs, thinking that all basically provide the same services under a different badge. What is unique are the people performing the work and their daily motivation. You should seek a partner that prioritizes its commitment to employee engagement and dedication to clients. Companies like Patagonia, Zappos, and Trader Joe’s are known for their award-winning culture – not only do they deliver exceptional service to their customers, they are able to attract and retain the best possible employees. Working with a full-service CRO that acts as an extension of your culture will make a tremendous difference during the planning and conduct of trials and will also serve as a valuable investment for the future health of the business relationship.


3. Clinical site relationships continue to drive productivity

Although the idea of virtual and hybrid clinical trials will eventually become a reality, today’s world of research still depends on effective clinical research sites and a healthy relationship with Sponsors and CROs. Your goal should be to work with a CRO who has a proven track record with sites. For example, if you do your research and discover a CRA team who scores above average for many consecutive years in a row, this can demonstrate the big impact to the relationships involved to support the conduct of clinical trials and the satisfaction of sites, patients, and Sponsors.


As we approach the new year, and a changed world in drug development, are you looking for a stable, credible, and productive partner? Contact us today to learn more about how we deliver A Better Clinical Experience.


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