The increasing costs of running clinical trials puts more importance on choosing the right outsourcing partner than ever before to ensure budgets and timelines are met. Nailing the fundamentals of CRO selection is crucial and stands a trial in good stead to achieving set milestones.

Speaking with Philip Arlen, we gain insight into how to effectively outsource clinical trials and how these partnerships are evolving. The key to successful partnerships, Arlen feels, depends a lot on CRO integration into the sponsor team.

Elizabeth Williams: When it comes to clinical outsourcing what would you class as the main ‘pain point’?

Philip Arlen: There are so many different vendors, such an oversaturation of the market. Choosing these vendors can be tricky at times, and much comes down to establishing relationships with vendors that suit the needs of the company and the trial.

EW: What are the key areas to focus on when selecting your vendor?

PA: Sometimes transitions are fine, if someone knows they are leaving, bringing someone in and the crossover can be seamless if properly prepared for. Companies that are smart ensure seamless transitions. The nature of the industry is such that change is a constant. If you’re a big organization, cover all bases finding out who you’re likely to be working with and so forth.

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EW: How do you ensure consistency in your team throughout an ongoing study?

PA: Oftentimes, sponsors get too focused on going with the better price, however, be warned that more expensive is not necessarily better. Another key question is their experience, what have you done, who have you worked with, what have you accomplished, and references from some clients. Some CROs and vendors provide references, giving a sense of what it’s like to work with them from the perspective of previous partners.

EW: How do you ensure your trial needs remains at the forefront of your vendor’s minds?

PA: Sit down and define goals – people often get caught up on other priorities and can quickly forget your objectives and get sidetracked.

EW: How do you establish effective project management and communication channels to ensure milestones are still met?

PA: The key here is communication and how to align sponsor needs. Every CRO will have a method to kick-start a study, however, as a trial progresses those initial discussions can often be forgotten, and that is where the communications struggles begin and goals aren’t met as a result.