By Kristy Anderson, Project Manager
The 3rd Annual Outsourcing in Clinical Trials Europe Conference in Zurich, Switzerland turned out to be much more compelling than I ever anticipated. The two day event, held on May 14 -15, enabled me to mingle and meet with various industry professionals from Sponsors, to CROs, and other vendors like Bracket. I particularly enjoyed being in the company of so many brilliant minds that had come together with the common goal of helping to improve the lives of those suffering with illnesses throughout the world.
Armed with an iPhone and Twitter account, I made notes of the two days the 21st century way – I tweeted my favorite pieces from the sessions, which enabled me share the wisdom with the world (okay only my 51 followers and whoever else happened to be following #OCTEurope!). By far, one of my favorite speeches was on day 2, given by Michael Zöher from AOP Pharmaceuticals. His morning talk awoke the crowd from their sleepiness and had everyone in stitches while he likened communications between Sponsors and vendors as sometimes a tug boat pulling an ocean liner or a Wild, Wild West face-off between Dirty Harry and the poor schmuck to taste his bullet! But what he said was true: communication is the key to a successful relationship – for whoever is involved in the study! Without good communications, things can quickly turn into the face-off scene from Dirty Harry, and from that, it is difficult for any company to recover and have a good rapport again.
During a panel discussion with Elke Bestel (PregLem), Peter Clompen (Actelion Pharma) and Annika Elelöw (Swedish Orphan Biovitrum), they spoke on how crucial excellent project management is to running a successful study. It was also suggested, and agreed by many, that the PM who will take on the study, if won, should be present at the bid defense and assume a very active role in winning the business. Sales team: hook us up! PM team: get your passports ready!
The panel also discussed the fact that while the Sponsors are in the age of trying to cut some budgets to these very costly trials, there are some things that should not be cut. Ever. Face to face meetings are usually the first to go; however, meeting with your Project Manager regularly is important, and the speaker counseled the room that if the budget needs to be cut somewhere, never take it from the F2F meetings.
For all the “stats geeks” out there reading this ditty: nearly 80% of all clinical trials fail to meet enrollment timelines; up to 50% of research sites enroll only 1 or no patients; 20% of investigators do not enroll any patients; and a Jack Daniels and Coke costs nearly 20 Swiss francs!
In all, I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to attend (thanks to my colleagues, Brian and Shannon, for pulling out at the last minute!) as I learned a mountain of information. This conference helped me see things from the perspective of the Sponsor side and how they feel about the work that we do for them.
Thomas Jefferson – “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”