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INC Research says new process hastens trial start dates

By Kirsty Barnes , 25-Jun-2007

INC Research said it is now able to bring the start date for its clinical trials forward by two weeks following the implementation of a company-wide process improvement strategy.

The contract research organisation (CRO) has implemented what it calls its "trusted process," which comprises four phases of action that are now taken after a contract is awarded, in order to deliver "consistent and repeatable results." "We have done this to decrease variability in trial performance and support our teams in providing dynamic resourcing," INC's CEO Jim Ogle told at last week's US Drug Information Association (DIA) meeting in Altanta. As part of this, the firm has formalised its 'kick-off' meetings and now uses them as an opportunity for both sponsor and CRO to meet together to collaborate and brainstorm in order to pre-empt and remedy any problems or challenges that may be encountered, prior to starting the trial. "In the past we were finding that the sponsor thought that they had told us everything we needed to know about the trial through the request for proposal (RFP) but we were finding that this was not the case and it was leading to project delays further down the line," said Ogle. "We now leave the kick-off meetings with a list of actionable tasks that are usually dealt with by the time we meet again in two weeks time, at which point we are able to start the project," he said. Meanwhile, INC has been going through a period of expansion over the past year, moving into new US headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, and also broadening its postmarketing contract research capabilities with the purchase of another CRO in Philadelphia, in late September, Pharmaceutical Resource Corporation, as well as opening new offices in Switzerland, France, Russia and the Ukraine. In April the firm also made its first move into India through an equal joint venture with Indian firm GVK Biosciences, and said it took this approach because "we knew what we didn't know." "GVK was a good fit for us. The firm gained a $41m (€30.5m) contract with Wyeth in India at the end of last year and since then we have gained three new contracts in the country, two of them with new clients, and others are also interested in the central lab services we provide there," said Ogle. At the same time, INC bought its second Pennsylvania-based CRO, Advanced Biologics and is using the purchase to strengthen its infectious disease offerings. "There is a lot of activity in infection diseases at the moment because there is a lot of resistance developing to the old antibiotic drugs and they are not working as well as they used to, and so new and better treatments are now needed," said Ogle. "It is the third largest clinical research area behind central nervous system (CNS) and oncology and a real opportunity for growth." Since the acquisition, INC has opened itself up to catering for 65 per cent of the contract research market, of which infections diseases account for around 20-25 per cent, he added. Looking forward, Ogle said the firm will now undergo a period of consolidation and will not be looking to make any "bold moves in the near term."

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