The Trial Nation project to get more clinical studies to Denmark has now been running for more than one and a half year. It has spurred thoughts among the leadership. Especially CEO Marianne Pilgaard has spent a great deal of the project’s first year considering the focal points of the future.
"We’ve had a very positive development with our current work model. If you look at the studies conducted through Trial Nation’s special network, for instance in cancer and dermatology, you’ll see that the number has increased from 72 trials in 2017 to 186 in 2019. We’re obviously very pleased because it shows that our method works, but we do have to look forward," she says, adding that new industry partners have also joined the network.
Some of the new partners are Glaxosmithkline, Bayer and AES, formerly known as CCBR. The company conducts contract research for the drug groups. The newest partner in the network is Germany's Merck.
Trial Nation was founded in the merger between two previous initiatives, NEXT and Én Indgang, that also sought to reduce the workload for actors wishing to conduct clinical trials in Denmark.
Pilgaard and her team has therefore had to take into account previously established methods and develop these further.
Expanding the network
The merger of the former initiatives created quite some changes. Trial Nation is, for instance, responsible for handling the improvement of clinical trials with drugs and medical devices, a task the project is still working on. At the same time, the organization has to develop.
"We’ve worked hard and been in contact with various interested parties in the field. For instance, the companies, the clinical environments, patient associations and politicians," says Pilgaard, adding:
"Something that became clear is the importance of having a common national strategy to quickly and easily connect the clinical environments and sponsors. According to our feedback, Trial Nation does a good job facilitating this contact so we’ll continue to improve that even more."
The facilitation is characterized by the seven special networks founded by NEXT in pulmonary medicine, dermatology, dementia etc. But these are no longer enough, according to Pilgaard and co.
"One of the things we have to look into is mapping of the clinical environments that do not match the focus of the specific Trial Nation centers to figure out how to include them in a national network. This is something that could really boost the system we created and expand the ecosystem," says the CEO.
Trial Nation also aims to create more transparency in the work, for instance regarding what is critical for the existence of the special centers.
To include new types of studies
Finally, Trial Nation is now working with a longer-term strategy to ensure that Denmark remains attractive for more modern trials. This is one of the reasons why the organization joined a large-scale project on virtual clinical trials.
"The primary health system handles more and more treatments instead of the hospitals. How do we prepare our organization so that we can also support studies with patients who are treated outside the hospitals," says Pilgaard.
For the same reason, Trial Nation has joined a new project with the Ministry of Health to look into the possibilities of establishing a national overview of clinical trials that also provides patients or relatives with information on where specific studies are conducted and who to contact.
"Ultimately, the aim is to provide the patients with better opportunities to find the right trial for them, for the sake of the patients and the companies that are to conduct the studies," explains Pilgaard.
She does not consider the new focus areas in Trial Nation a radical rethinking of the organization’s way of functioning.
"It’s about expanding and concretizing our work so that we make the most of the strong public-private partnership and the direct model we’ve established," she says.