Running a clinical trial can often feel like organizing a moon landing, with a million moving parts threatening to throw the launch off course. Well, maybe not quite to that extreme, but it certainly represents a challenge that requires all the organized support that sponsors and CROs can receive. For example, two factors that can threaten to derail a clinical trial – yet are often overlooked – are patient retention and equipment supply, both of which are vital to ensure trials continue as planned and their objectives are met. And so finding support with proven know-how quite often makes the difference between success or failure.
Challenges of clinical trials
The challenges associated with running a clinical trial are becoming progressively more diverse, owing to the ever-increasing scale, globalization, and bespoke nature of drug development. Having trial sites plotted across the four corners of the globe is now the norm, which means sourcing and supplying equipment requires an international solution, not only in the initial set-up, but also for the ongoing supply of consumables, as well as equipment support and maintenance. This is further complicated by the vast regulatory landscape that can differ between countries and regions, the ever-changing political tide, and unforeseeable pressures – such as the COVID-19 pandemic – that threaten operations like never before.
What a customer wants and needs isn’t always the same
A tailored approach is therefore needed to tackle these challenges, applying knowledge that only decades of experience in supporting clinical trials can deliver. This is especially pertinent in the procurement of equipment, where understanding and recognizing the differences between what a CRO or sponsor may want and need could greatly impact the success of a trial. For example, there are now an abundance of new technologies that may be largely unknown, but can potentially help to increase patient retention or improve the quality and amount of data. Wearables are starting to make a splash by measuring and securely storing a variety of health-related data, as are point-of-care (POC) devices, both of which are driving the transition to a more decentralized approach to clinical trials. A deep familiarity of how and where to source this equipment, as well as the precise situation in which they should be used – while knowing the specific regulations – can transform a clinical trial and alleviate common pressures.
A flexible approach
Of course, a clinical trial is never stagnant, and initial forecasts on required equipment can sometimes vary dramatically. It can become a herculean feat to predict changes that occur over the length of a trial – sometimes spanning years – and so having the agility to move in parallel is crucial. This is where Woodley Trial Solutions really comes into its own, as we (the company) have the reflexes to react in time to keep a clinical trial on track. We can source just about anything – from ECG and continuous glucose monitors to fridges and imaging equipment – to respond to the nuances of each clinical trial. And often it’s not as simple as saying ‘job done’ as you dump a load of boxed up equipment in a warehouse. Multi-site clinical trials may require 10 units to be set up and calibrated here and 25 there, on this date, to be retrieved then – which of course may change, for example, if patients drop out – making flexibility, again, imperative. Procurement is the silent partner in any trial, because if the equipment isn’t there when a patient turns up, time and money is wasted, as is the precious time and good will of the patient. Therefore, having a supplier that is geared to delivering low-digit units, to any location it may be needed, can improve operational convenience and, importantly, patient retention.
When a sponsor begins to plan a global clinical trial, reaching out to an experienced equipment supplier can help alleviate the stresses associated with sourcing and acquiring what is needed, as well as easing the logistical complexities. Woodley Trial Solutions offers smarter equipment solutions, and these benefits ultimately filter down to patients, who then receive the best, most applicable and timely care when needed, further removing unnecessary stress in the process.
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