NEW YORK, June 15—With a record number of pharmaceutical products in the research pipeline, recruiting patients for clinical trials has become an increasingly competitive business, and in recent years most of the leading healthcare public relations firms have added clinical trial recruitment to their list of capabilities. This week, through a partnership with technology provider PharmaTech Solutions, GCI Group has created what GCI healthcare practice chairman Ilyssa Levins calls “a groundbreaking, fully integrated clinical trial recruitment and retention service.”

The alliance is designed to give contract research organizations, medical institutions and drug company sponsors a single-source for integrating a range of customized solutions and streamlining clinical trial patient recruitment in the United States and around the world. By combining effective healthcare communications tactics with technology solutions based on clinical expertise, recruiting patients into a clinical trial will be dramatically accelerated, the firms believe.

“The GCI and PharmaTech alliance integrates clinical trial recruitment services for the first time from a single source,” says Levins. “The efficiencies we can create through this alliance have the potential to enhance drug development and maximize patient awareness of the value in participating in medical research.”

GCI takes an integrated approach to clinical trial recruitment that includes not only advertising—traditionally the lead discipline in such efforts—but also public relations and partnerships with patient advocacy groups. “No single communication tactic works in every recruitment situation,” says Levins, who says the new offering will enable GCI to reach both patients and medical professionals.

PharmaTech Solutions uses state-of-the-art telecommunication and data systems, to capture vital recruitment information from prospective volunteers through the efforts of medical screening associates. The use of such data throughout the study increases retention and enhances the participant’s experience of the trial.

Since 1993, the number of drugs in development has jumped from 4,100 to an estimated 9,000 this year, and 78 percent of all trials are delayed by challenges in recruiting patients. Delayed enrollment in trials can postpone the marketing of potentially life-saving/quality-of-life enhancing drugs and deplete research and development resources.
“We have always recognized that the greatest impact we can make on further accelerating the clinical trial recruitment process is to combine our clinically focused technology expertise with smart healthcare communication strategies that address a trial’s clinical outcomes,” said Jim Mash, president and CEO of PharmaTech.