Oncology is one of PRA's two core areas of specialty and US Oncology Research is one of the largest cancer research networks in the US, with 536 physicians enrolling patients and 88 research sites across the country.
The new alliance aims to jump start investigator and patient recruitment at a time when contract research organisations (CROs) and sponsors are finding it notoriously difficult to attract patients in the US, particularly for oncology trials, where there is a lot of activity and therefore a lot of competition.
"This alliance with US Oncology provides us with expanded access to patients and investigators, which will translate into faster study start-up, patient accrual and a more productive development process for our clients," said Kent Thoelke, vice president and head of Therapeutic Expertise at PRA.
As part of the arrangement, US Oncology will provide PRA with assess to its physicians for trial feasibility studies and the two organisations have also aligned their operational processes in order to reduce the potential for any redundancies or conflicts arising that can hamper the timely implementation of a trial when they work together.
"In order to hasten the development of new oncotherapeutic agents, it is essential that we consistently evaluate and identify opportunities to streamline clinical trial operational processes," said Dr Atul Dhir, president of the Cancer Information Research Group for US Oncology.
This is the first time that PRA has formed such an alliance on this scale and level of formality, company spokesperson John Lewis told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
"I'm also not aware of any alliances that other CROs have on this scale or level of interconnectivity."
While the actual deal itself involves no financial exchange between the two parties, US Oncology will benefit from a cut of the investigator fees when PRA recruits the organisation's investigators onto its trials, said Lewis.
The arrangement is not exclusive and Lewis said that PRA is also in discussion with other organisations in multiple global locations, primarily in the therapeutic area of oncology, to discuss the possibility of striking up similar relationships.