In the next step of fulfilling its mission to improve clinical trials efficiency, with a relationship-based, physician-first attitude at its core, DrugDev announced it has acquired TrialNetworks, which offers a unified suite of integrated study management apps and site-facing tools called the Clinical Trial Optimization System. And not unlike its first acquisition of CFS Clinical in October 2013, the acquisition has elements of innovation, scale, and overall industry improvement as its impetus.
TrialNetworks was formed in 2010 with the goal of addressing the inefficiencies that had become standard by default in a fast-growing clinical trials industry. As Eric Silberstein, CEO of TrialNetworks explained, “You used to have physicians that knew each other get together and do a trial, on a very small scale, and it wasn’t complicated. But in the past 20 years, the industry has absolutely ballooned, and there was much, much more paperwork and processes, and all of a sudden what you could do on a small scale, couldn’t be done. And it can be done better.”
With that in mind, Silberstein and TrialNetworks additional founders, Ezra Freedman, CTO and Vivek Murthy, MD, an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, set out to create a collaborative, cloud-based platform, based on a system of apps. They drew upon their varied backgrounds and submersed themselves in conversations with clinical trials professionals on their needs, offered up a là app as an easier-to-manage and easier-to-digest way of improving the clinical operations. Many apps come from directly from customers’ needs or ideas. And the app model allows the more-conservative pharma industry to use one app, like it, get used to it and trust it and then move on to adding the next app. By way of clarification, the apps are not mobile-downloaded apps, rather a suite of modules or tabs that can be used alone or in tandem or full-suite as sponsors choose. Merck and Biogen Idec, for example, are two customers using the full app platform from startup through closeout.
Ibraheem Mahmood, CEO and President of DrugDev, in its search for best of breed solutions that address the investigator and investigative site pain points, said that they were intrigued with the elegant way that the TrialNetworks platform approaches the steps in the clin ops process. What DrugDev offers TrialNetworks is the ability to scale in a larger, more well-financed organization—providing global reach, as well as customer confidence. “They are not a fly-by-night technology company, but now customers can trust that they have the backing and are here to stay.”
Alan Louie, Research Director with IDC Health Insights, said the TrialNetworks platform provides a very easy way to engage investigators. He noted that it has useful analytics that can be really helpful to address behavior around patient retention, for example. Another feature Louie mentioned is gamification, which is also engaging. “More interesting is the solution is investigator-centric and is being bought by a company that's focused on investigators.” And he noted it as part of an overall trend: “It's interesting that there is increasing attention being paid to other stakeholders in the industry and not just the sponsors,” said Louie.
Mahmood also says that TrialNetworks will be the glue that keeps DrugDev together. DrugDev now consists of services including its Site Services, with a 180,000 network of investigators to execute site feasibility studies, and find sites and create investigator communities for sponsors and CROs; the investigator payment and site activation services of CFS Clinical; and the Investigator Databank, which is a collaborative effort hosted by DrugDev and used by Merck, Janssen, Lilly, Pfizer and Novartis to share their investigators and their information.
“When you build a product,” said Silberstein, “what you want is for it to be used very widely. We want to be used by most sponsors. And what you’ll see with leading technology companies is they are not going it alone. They get partners or investment so that they can scale. For us, with DrugDev’s philosophy, and how important clinical trials are and how well our two cultures fit, we knew this was the right fit.”
TrialNetworks will keep its name and management team in place.
Coincidentally, at the Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference this past month, TrialNetworks Clinical Trial Optimization System was awarded the Disruptive Technology of the Year award; the Investigator Databank team was honored with the Partnerships Pioneers award; and Melissa Easy, founder and Chief Commercial Officer of DrugDev was named as a finalist among three other high profile women for the IIR’s Woman of the Year award.
You can read the full release here.