TrialSite News monitors research site network activities. 2018 was a busy year with contract research organizations (CROs), sponsors, research sites and site networks jostling for position primarily in partnership structures for competitive differentiation based on therapeutic area, geography or other differentiating, value-adding element. Fierce competition for commercial sponsor business drives CROs toward high-value, integrated offering that include:
- Integrated site and patient recruitment offerings
- Clinical Research as Care options
- Big data, advanced analytics
- Value-added integrated outsourcing models
- Deep, rich access to integrated site networks
Most recently CRO PRA Health Sciences launched a pediatric site network to offer more value in the pediatric space in select therapeutic areas. LMC Manna Research expended its’ site network into Montreal and a total of 19 sites with acquisition of Omnispec to add capacity and experience. LMC Manna Research is the largest network of fully-owned and integrated clinical research sites in Canada providing Phase I-IV clinical trials services with a specialized focus on endocrine disorders, RWE-Big Data, vaccine research and primary care studies.
ICON plc inked a strategic deal with Illinois-based DuePage Medical Group opening up 800 physician practice in the Chicago area for clinical trial research efforts. Based on the master agreement, ICON PMG unit (Site and Patient Recruitment group) will now manage the research infrastructure for this physician group! PMG now operates 53 clinics/centers in 43 cities with access to over 3 million patients. By leveraging this master agreement partnership model, ICON PMG intelligently creates creative reciprocity in that site network such as DuPage now receives the services and expertise of ICON PMG and the latter has access to patients and investigator capabilities. Also, this deal further evidences incremental blurring of the line between research organization (in this case ICON) and provider organization.
Clinerion and S4 inked a partnership for expansion in India in 2018. Clinerion, among other activities a site data aggregator—making key data searchable—supports real world evidence-based research. S4 provides clinical research services in India serving sites and sponsors. The goal of this partnership is for S4 to support Clinerion’s expansion of its global network of partner hospitals in India. MAC Clinical Research, an integrated UK clinical development organization, announced expansion of its global site network to satisfy commercial sponsor and CRO “dire need” for patients in efficient numbers.
American Renal Associates announced its launching of a targeted investigative site network to bring clinical research to patients while delivering care. Further evidence of the coming together of clinical research and provider care or “Clinical Research as Care.” The development of a research network called American Renal Clinical Research Services (ARCRS) provides physician partners the direct opportunity to deliver clinical trial options. This formation opens the opportunity for greater access to both investigators and patients. American Renal Associates is one of the largest dialysis service providers in the United States. They provide high quality patient care to patients suffering from the most advance stage of chronic kidney disease known as End Stage Renal Disease.
Syneos Health (Nasdaq: SYNH) launched the “Catalyst” Ophthalmology Site Network in support of faster start-up times and efficient trial delivery. Syneos is one of the larger fully integrated clinical research organizations. The Catalyst Ophthalmology Site Network represents the newest therapeutic Network in the Syneos Health Catalyst Site Program set up to drive predictability and increased efficiency in ocular trials. PPD announced that its Acurian group has formed a partnership with site network Synexus to form SynexusPlus, an integrated site solution for enrolling patients in clinical studies. Chinese CRO giant WuXi announced yet another site added to its discovery, development and manufacturing integrated site network in China.
CRO Synteract acquired KinderPharm to build a one stop shop for pediatric clinical trials. A “single source model” is the objective of these two CROs coming together for clients developing pediatric treatments. The targeted had developed a tight network of pediatric research site relationships of value for a broader, more comprehensive clinical offering. Individual commercial sponsors were also active in 2018 forging partnerships to more efficiently and effectively design and execute on clinical trials. For example, Sanofi partnered with site network data aggregator TriNetX and research center Cornell to implement better overall trial design.
Of course, a few years ago there was a flurry of strategic deals where CROs directly acquired site networks. 2018 appeared to represent a year of careful, methodical market refinement; where organizations are carefully and meticulously planning to incrementally invest and advance for competitive differentiation. Swiss giant Novartis has added a gene-focused manufacturing facility in North Carolina.