The Rules of Engagement: CTTI Recommendations for Successful Collaborations Between Sponsors and Patient Groups Around Clinical Trials

July 27, 2017By: James E. Valentine

The DIA journal, Therapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science, published the recommendations arising from an effort by the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) Patient Groups and Clinical Trials team, which included HP&M Attorney James E. Valentine, to identify the elements necessary for successful collaboration between patient groups and academic and industry sponsors of clinical trials, in order to develop recommendations for best practices for effective patient group engagement.

The project employed in-depth interviews that were conducted to identify the fundamentals of successful patient group engagement. Thirty-two respondents from three sectors participated: patient groups, academic researchers, and industry. The findings were presented to a multistakeholder group of experts in January 2015. The expert group came to consensus on a set of actionable recommendations for best practices for patient groups and research sponsors.

As highlighted in the publication, interview respondents acknowledged that not all patient groups are created equal in terms of what they can contribute to a clinical trial. The most important elements for effective patient group engagement include establishing meaningful partnerships, demonstrating mutual benefits, and collaborating as partners from the planning stage forward. Although there is a growing appreciation by sponsors about the benefits of patient group engagement, there remains some resistance and some uncertainty about how best to engage. Barriers include mismatched expectations and a perception that patient groups lack scientific sophistication and that “wishful thinking” may cloud their recommendations.

The team concluded that patient groups are developing diverse skillsets and acquiring assets to leverage in order to become collaborators with industry and academia on clinical trials. Growing numbers of research sponsors across the clinical trials enterprise are recognizing the benefits of continuous and meaningful patient group engagement, but there are still mindsets to change, and stakeholders need further guidance on operationalizing a new model of clinical trial conduct.

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