Five Global Clinical Research Industry Trends in 2017

Every industry goes through changes over time and the clinical research industry is no exception. However, it does show distinct industry-specific characteristics, such as the slower pace of change, a continuation of similar trends year-after-year and the longer period needed for full implementation.

Here are five trends we have identified for the global clinical research industry in 2017:

  1. Pricing pressure. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to lower the cost of drugs as patients, politicians and physicians call for a drop in their prices. This effort was intensified after August 2015, when the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals increased the price of Daraprim, a drug important for the treatment of toxoplasmosis or acute malaria, by 5,000%. Price pressure will continue in 2017, as companies look to get drugs and devices to market faster.
  2. Tech giants settle in. In recent years, technology companies such as Google, Apple and IBM have entered the clinical research sector, and we expect this to continue in 2017 and beyond. With massive amounts of health-related data collected and processed by these giants, we can gain a better understanding of diseases and better focus the treatments. Why are Google, Apple and others so keen on this market? How are these companies altering the space? VentureClash sheds some light on the topic.
  3. More trials in Africa. The reduction in the amount of time and cost to conduct a clinical trial becomes important, as competition to bring a new drug to the market is increasing, and so is the search for new markets. According to a paper published by Wockhardt Ltd. in Open Journal of Clinical Trials, sub-Saharan African countries, such as Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, are becoming particularly attractive areas for clinical trials. These countries offer a diverse patient population, as well as comparatively research-friendly and ambitious governments keen to develop these countries as pharmaceutical and health centers of excellence.
  4. Using social media. Not new for 2017, but still a continuing trend for this year is the use of social media for patient recruitment and awareness. More than $2 billion is spent annually on patient recruitment, yet enrollment remains low, often delaying clinical trials. A 2016 survey conducted by the Association of Clinical Research Organizations showed wearables and social media as two key trends in the industry. Outsourcing Pharma explains why researchers see twitter and other social media platforms as viable options for stimulating interest and enrollment in clinical trials.
  5. Regulatory changes. Regulatory changes are not new, nor will they soon come to an end. If previous year-over-year trends continue, we will likely continue to see an increase in these changes. For example, in 2015, 243 new Guidance Documents were issued, compared to only 117 in 2012. One already on the books for 2017 is the National Institutes of Health’s policy to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical trials. The policy requires applicable clinical trials to be registered in no later than 21 calendar days after the enrollment of the first participant. The new NIH policy applies to all NIH-funded trials, including phase 1 clinical trials of FDA-regulated products and small feasibility device trials, as well as products that are not regulated by the FDA, such as behavioral interventions. Keep track of all Guidance Documents issued here.

Read one of our case studies to find out how Welocalize Life Sciences has helped companies pool data across countries or reduce time-to-market, two ongoing trends in clinical trials.