The growing trend within big pharma these days is the prevalence of departments dedicated solely to clinical innovation. Across the industry, teams have been tasked with uncovering ways to innovate drug development processes. The aim is not simply to get the biggest bang for their company’s buck, but to foster creative, positive conditions once a new idea – that could well be a game-changer – has been developed.

The potential impact mHealth, eTools and wearable technologies could have on clinical trials has been discussed at length in the past. With the rise of new technologies already disrupting well-established paradigms, experts have sought to understand what it could mean for industry as a whole, as well as what it could mean in terms of the direction in which it is travelling. Certainly, there’s a debate to be had as to whether these new methods and tools impact the sponsor-CRO dynamic.

“Innovation is not just about capitalising on a novel concept, nor is it about finding new ways to do something,” one clinical professional said. “Innovation is about finding new ways to do things better, faster, cheaper, effective, and will get our drugs to patients sooner. That’s what we need.”

While some experts argue that most companies are evolving faster than their consumer’s needs that’s not necessarily true of the pharmaceutical industry. Most companies produce products or services that are either too sophisticated, too expensive, or too complicated. Part of that is the overhead of trying to innovate, ensuring your research is done, and making sure the drugs are safe and effective before they get to market.

“I do think the piece of the innovation that’s key for us as an industry is making it less expensive and less sophisticated, but not in terms of safety and efficacy, but complexity,” the professional said.

And to that end, how well is the industry doing at innovating processes? Is the industry really selecting the most valuable ideas? What are prime examples of real disruptors? For one, in the US, traditional MD offices are moving to retail clinics. Over the last few years, retail clinics have risen to prominence in the form of decentralised trials, siteless trials, and non brick and mortar trials, all the way to digital trials. It is these retail medical clinics that feed into the concept that patients can receive care wherever they are in a really convenient way, which is spurring innovation.

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When it comes to innovating clinical trials, while positive strides have been made to improve the patient experience, when you analyse the ways in which processes have changed (patient centric trials, electronic data, TransCelerate), the list is not really that extensive.

According to a survey carried out by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in 2013 surveyed over 1200 pharma CEOs, 87 percent of executives thought that by today the industry would have enhanced the customer experience in some shape or form. But has the industry’s efforts over the past decade significantly changed the way trials are conducted?

Certainly, it can be argued that by using emerging technologies in clinical trials there’s a huge opportunity for industry to conduct studies that are bigger, better and cheaper. Nevertheless, a lot depends on attracting and securing the right talent while having the right people in place.



Nasser, Nariman – Exploring Clinical Innovation (Presentation)