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How Your Oncology Trial Can Benefit from a Mid-Size CRO

When choosing an oncology CRO, make sure it is equipped to handle the unique challenges of the world’s most-researched indications.

Clinical development is evolving to adapt to a new business landscape built on strategic partnerships. Now more than ever, therapeutic indication affects managing clinical trials, because sponsors can take their pick from CROs who offer specialized expertise. That’s why, when it comes to intricate therapeutic areas like oncology, you shouldn’t compromise in choosing a CRO that can meet your study’s complex needs.

The Challenges of Oncology Trials

With cancer being the world’s second leading cause of death, the stakes could not be higher in oncology research. However, designing and conducting oncology trials presents complicated hurdles that often lead to delays, interruptions, and failures.

It is estimated that only 3-5% of eligible cancer patients participate in clinical trials. It is no surprise, then, that slow-moving enrollment is one of the most common challenges in oncology trials. At a rate of about 0.25–0.5 patients per site per month, many trials take up to two years to meet enrollment needs. Further obstacles present themselves in the form of strict regulatory requirements, which affect every stage of the trial (and dramatically slow progress in the larger scope of cancer research). These and other factors make it critical for oncology CROs to offer competitive advantages in all aspects of clinical trial management.

How Do Mid-Size CRO Services Compete?

In a survey of pharmaceutical companies offshoring clinical trials, 61% of respondents said that recent experience in the same indication was an important factor in choosing a CRO partner for their next study. Experience, however, is not exclusive to large and established CROs.

The most attractive feature of mid-size CROs is that they blend the benefits of both large and small organizations. They often hold impressive portfolios with wide-ranging experience, but can provide the personal attention characteristic of small-scale, boutique CROs. With a mid-size CRO, it is also likely that senior management will be more involved in your study — and have access to resources needed to solve complex challenges.

Managing clinical trials within challenging therapeutic areas requires the type of agility you find in a mid-size CRO. Oncology trials benefit from a problem-solving mentality to help remain on course and meet budget requirements. Smaller CROs are not often experienced enough to handle these scenarios, and larger CROs tend to operate within established processes that they are reluctant to break. Mid-sized CROs, however, are well-equipped to respond to unanticipated changes by innovating in the moment.

How to Spot Innovation in an Oncology CRO

In an analysis of studies registered on, it was found that only 10.7% of oncology trials were reported complete (as opposed to nearly 30% of trials in other therapeutic areas). This is partly because cancer is extremely complex in its biology. While we may refer to it as such, it does not act like a single disease, and the manner in which it mutates makes it difficult to treat. This makes it critical for a potential CRO partner to demonstrate innovative qualities.

What should you look for to determine if a CRO can solve problems in innovative ways? One good indicator is how many studies it has successfully rescued. Rescue studies require in-depth, creative problem solving to address complex challenges. They also demand a heightened sense of urgency in order to adhere to timelines. If a CRO highlights rescue studies in its portfolio, that suggests they possess the experience and resources to handle challenges efficiently and effectively.

OCT Clinical is a leading mid-size CRO in Eastern Europe. With over 20 rescue studies and 75 oncology studies in our portfolio, our experienced and agile team is poised to take on your next project. Fill out our contact form to request a proposal.