The Cytel blog keeps you up to speed with the latest developments in biostatistics and clinical biometrics.

COVID-19 Clinical Development Quiz

July 2, 2020

There are currently 1570 registered clinical trials for COVID-19 therapies and vaccines. Approximately 20% are registered in the United States and 25% in the European Union. How well do you know the state of COVID-19 clinical development? Take our quiz to find out:

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The Good Data Submission Doctor: CDISC for COVID-19

June 29, 2020

From the time the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic, the number of studies conducted around the world to either diagnose, prevent or treat the virus literally exploded (1570 as on today, according to the Cytel Global Coronavirus COVID-19 Clinical Trial Tracker1).

Moreover, the pandemic impacted the regular schedule of ongoing clinical trials. Health authorities such as the FDA, promptly provided recommendations in the form of questions and answers on how to handle “disruptions” due to the pandemic2. These disruptions include a range of challenges including skipped assessments or study withdrawal.

“CDISC launched a task force in an effort to support CDISC members and the research community as they work tirelessly to discover critical breakthroughs to treat COVID-19 …. The task force was launched with the goal of developing Interim User Guide and Related material” said David Bobbitt, CDISC CEO, in an interview with Outsourcing-Pharma.com3. On April 21, 2020, the task force released two guidances. In this blog, I provide you with a quick summary of what these guidances address.

The two guidances are:

  • Guidance for Ongoing Studies Disrupted by COVID-19
  • CDISC Interim User Guide for COVID-19

Continue reading to learn more.

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New Whitepaper: Bayesian Methodologies for COVID-19 Drugs, Devices and Biologics

June 27, 2020

Expert statisticians at Cytel have spent the past three and a half months designing and deploying dozens of trials for COVID-19 trials. A new whitepaper describes the critical uses of Bayesian methodologies employed by Cytel statisticians, in their search for effective therapies, prophylactics and vaccines.

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Webinar: Practical Model-based Approaches for Phase I Oncology Trials

June 24, 2020

Last week, Cytel conducted its third webinar in the new introductory webinar series on Complex Innovative Trial Designs. Our speaker, Dr. Satrajit Roychoudhury is a Senior Director, Statistical Research and Data Science Center at Pfizer. In this webinar, Dr. Roychoudhury gets into the basics of phase I designs in oncology trials, explains the caveats of frequently used traditional designs and provides insights on how implementing a model-based approach can enable a better statistical inference and decision-making. You can watch the replay of the webinar and access the slides by clicking on the button.

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We also had the privilege to interview Dr. Satrajit Roychoudhury. Read our blog where he talks about his interest in statistics, explains the concept of Bayesian model-based approaches and their importance in oncology trials.

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Head to Head Comparisons Using Real World Data: An Interview with Miguel Hernan

June 23, 2020

Supposing two treatments, A and B, need to be compared that have not been compared through a clinical trial. In the absence of such information, those treatments have been compared with each other via a third treatment, C (i.e., A to C and B to C) using indirect treatment comparison approaches.  Recent developments are challenging this status quo.  The increased availability of regulatory-grade RWD helps.  We can also now avoid some of the biases that used to plague the use of observational data.

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Webinar: Synthetic and External Controls in Clinical Trials

June 22, 2020

Cytel scientists recently published a new eBook on synthetic control arms and a new scientific primer for the more technically advanced. Our new primer focuses on assessing the validity of data, the validity of methodology, and the modes of analysis and interpretation within this burgeoning field. Each of these is a crucial part of understanding how to make the most impact with a synthetic control. Read our blog to learn more about the eBook and the primer, and register to download both.

Cytel also conducted a webinar on Synthetic and External Controls in Clinical Trials with Dr. Kristian Thorlund, a Professor of Biostatistics at McMaster University and Senior Vice President of Real World Evidence at Cytel. In this webinar, Dr. Thorlund introduces synthetic control arms and discusses the validity of data, results and interpretations. He also answers several questions from the audience around sample size calculations, quality of datasets and use of synthetic controls in various kinds of clinical trials. Click on the button to get free access to the recording and the slides from the webinar.

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Why You Should Construct Primary Endpoints Using Bayesian Methods: Lessons from COVID-19

June 18, 2020

One of the revelations of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the flexibility and potential of Bayesian designs goes far beyond the benefits connected to informed priors. Rather a number of other benefits to Bayesian designs are sometimes under-appreciated. The importance of using Bayesian methods to choose composite endpoints, for example, particularly in longitudinal studies, can be overlooked when considering Bayesian and Frequentist options.

Cytel statisticians reflected on these benefits during a recent panel discussion.

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Optimizing Patient Recruitment: Download Whitepaper

June 18, 2020

A number of trials recently disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now in the process of re-assessing recruitment timelines, and establishing new recruitment targets. Recruitment projections, though, are only as good as the starting assumptions with which a forecast is made and the models subsequently used to calculate timelines.

Overly simplistic assumptions, even familiar ones like, “All patients will arrive and enroll in a strictly linear fashion,” have strong  drawbacks. In order to maximize the potential to achieve recruitment milestones and to avoid misleading trial projections, planning must take careful precautions even when conditions are not this uncertain.

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Significance of Bayesian Model-Based Approaches in Oncology Trials: An Interview with Dr. Satrajit Roychoudhury

June 15, 2020

On June 17, 2020, Cytel is conducting a webinar with Dr. Satrajit Roychoudhury, Senior Director, Statistical Research and Data Science Center, Pfizer. Dr. Roychoudhury will be talking about practical model-based approaches for phase I oncology trials. This webinar is a part of Cytel’s “Introduction to Complex Innovative Trial Designs” webinar series. You can register by clicking on the button below.

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In this blog, we bring to you an insightful interview with Dr. Satrajit Roychoudhury where he talks to us about his interest in statistics, explains the concept of Bayesian model-based approaches and their importance in oncology trials.

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Weekly Updates from the COVID-19 Trial Tracker (June 12)

June 13, 2020

The Cytel COVID-19 Trial Tracker continues to bring you an up to the minute, real time dashboard about COVID-19 trials around the world. Here are a few updates from this week.

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Adaptive Bayesian Methods: The Secret Weapon in COVID-19 Vaccine Development

June 11, 2020

A recent Cytel panel led by Vice President of Strategic Consulting Natalia Muhlemann evaluated the role that Bayesian methods played in development of a COVID-19 vaccine. The wide-ranging discussion covered the structure and utility of platform trials and the role of master protocols in infectious disease vaccines development, but also addressed the importance of adaptive Bayesian methods in the search for COVID-19 therapies.

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Webinar: Group Sequential Designs and Sample Size Re-estimation

June 10, 2020

Cytel is conducting a webinar series that introduces biostatisticians to some of the more commonly used complex innovative trial designs. Our second webinar from this series was held on June 3, 2020, with Professor Christopher Jennison. Professor Jennison spoke about the modern uses of Group Sequential Designs and Sample Size Re-estimation. Group Sequential Designs were one of the earliest deviations from a traditional two-arm clinical trial with no interim looks at the data. They still add amazing value to trials through their abilities to safeguard patients, reach positive conclusions early and keep trial designs simple and streamlined. Sample Size Re-estimation is another key tool in the modern trial designer’s toolkit.

Cytel also did an interview with Professor Jennison where he spoke to us about these methods, their origin and how they add value to the industry. Continue reading this blog for a summary of the webinar. Click on the button below to access the webinar replay and download the presentation slides.

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Trevor Mundel, President of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on COVID-19 and the Future of Drug Development in Emerging Economies

June 9, 2020

Trevor Mundel leads the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s efforts to develop high-impact interventions against the leading causes of death and disability in developing countries. During a Cytel panel on the COVID-19 response, Trevor reflects on the complexities of data management, forecasting, dose-finding, recruitment and retention, when responding to a global pandemic.

Hear the entire conversation by clicking the button below or read further to get some of the highlights of this critical discussion.

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New Primer and Ebook on Synthetic Control Arms

June 8, 2020

Cytel has recently published a new ebook on synthetic control arms, and a new scientific primer as well.

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COVID-19 Weekly Brief

June 4, 2020

This weekly snapshot gives you a quick briefing on the state of COVID-19 therapy and vaccines development. As we head into June, nearly 1500 trials have been registered and over 100,000 patients have been recruited into said trials.

Here is what you need to know:

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Webinar: Innovative Drug Development at a Glance

June 1, 2020

In a recent interview with Cytel, Zoran Antonijevic, longstanding chair and leader of the DIA Adaptive Design Scientific Working Group, spoke about adaptive design methods. He gave us insights on how these methods can help achieve new levels of clinical trial efficiency and probability of success.

Cytel is conducting a webinar series that introduces biostatisticians to some of the more commonly used complex innovative trial designs. On May 20, 2020, Zoran Antonijevic joined us as a speaker at a webinar from this series, “Innovative Drug Development at a Glance - The Concepts, The Vision, & The Factors to Consider”. In the webinar, Zoran defines complex innovative trial designs, summarizes the potential benefits of each, and highlights key factors to consider when applying these techniques. Continue reading this blog for a summary of the webinar. Click the button to get free access to the webinar slides and recording.

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Updates from the Trial Tracker: The State of COVID-19 Development (May 2020)

May 29, 2020

At the close of May 2020, we have about 500 new trials globally but trends in trial design and choice of therapies tested have largely remained the same. The state of Vaccine Trials though has changed in both number and trial design.

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COVID-19 Response: New Opportunities & Implications for the Future of Drug Development in Emerging Economies – Q&A with James Orbinski on Global Health Policy

May 28, 2020

On May 7, Cytel and Certara conducted a virtual panel discussion on new opportunities and implications for the future of drug development in emerging economies. The speakers included highly acclaimed key opinion leaders and industry experts who spoke about new sources of research funding being channeled towards emerging economies and the need to understand its strategic priorities to properly assess future opportunities for growth.

Our first panelist, James Orbinski is a professor at York University's Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. James is an experienced medical doctor, a humanitarian practitioner, a best-selling author and a leading scholar in global health. After extensive field experience with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Dr. Orbinski was elected MSF’s international president from 1998 to 2001. He launched its Access to Essential Medicines Campaign in 1999, and in that same year accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to MSF. Our moderator from Cytel, Principal Scientist, Edward Mills began the virtual panel discussion by asking James a series of pertinent questions on the issues around the current pandemic. Continue reading this post for the Q&A.

Get access to the virtual panel replay by clicking on the button below.

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Interview with Professor Christopher Jennison: Group Sequential Designs and Sample Size Re-estimation

May 27, 2020

In this blog, we speak with Christopher Jennison, Professor of Statistics at the University of Bath, UK. Professor Jennison provides us insights on group sequential methods, the origin of their implementation and the value they have been adding over the years.

Cytel is hosting a new webinar series that introduces clinical fellows, early career biostatisticians, and others interested in clinical research, to some of the more commonly used complex innovative trial designs. In our previous blog, we spoke with Zoran Antonijevic about adaptive design methods.

Join us for a complimentary webinar on June 3, 2020 where Professor Jennison is going to introduce us to the basics of group sequential designs and sample size re-estimation. Learn how to use these methods and understand how they can improve trial design.

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4 Things You Need to Know about COVID-19 Trial Designs

May 22, 2020

The Cytel Trial Tracker now features summary plots that display trials by country, trial status and study design. This enables us to take a deeper dive into patterns of trial design in COVID-19 studies. This blog post explores the use of single-arm studies, numbers of multiarm studies, and more.

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Interview with Zoran Antonijevic on Adaptive Design Methods

May 18, 2020

In this blog, we speak with Zoran Antonijevic, longstanding chair and leader of the DIA Adaptive Design Scientific Working Group, and former Principal Statistical Consultant at Cytel. We speak about adaptive design methods, their value to the industry, their success and ways to overcome the existing challenges including the hesitation towards its wide adoption.

This summer Cytel is hosting a new webinar series that introduces clinical fellows, early career biostatisticians, and others interested in clinical research, to some of the more commonly used complex innovative trial designs. These webinars will cover the benefits of each design, and the practical considerations for adoption.

On May 20, 2020 Zoran Antonijevic is going to present an introductory overview of all these advanced design methods, in a webinar from this series. This webinar will define complex innovative trial design, briefly introduce the concepts, summarize the potential benefits of each, and highlight key factors to consider when applying these techniques. You can register by clicking on the button below.

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Weekly COVID-19 Trial Tracker Updates

May 14, 2020

This has been an exciting week for COVID-19 studies. We learned that several Cytel clients who have designed new clinical trials using our East software, are about to begin enrolling. Our subject-matter experts are also heavily involved in designing vaccine trials, as well as offering biometrical support and data management for three vaccine trials that have already begun to enroll.

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Innovations in Oncology Trial Design & Development Webinar Series

May 12, 2020

In our previous blog, “Remote Working Arrangement – How to get it right?”, we talked about how the need for social distancing has led most of the employers, across the globe, to make work-from-home arrangements for their employees. As we continue to stay indoors and combat COVID-19, keeping aside some time every day to read and watch useful resources on important industry topics can be very helpful. Cytel's team of oncology trial design and advanced analytics experts have been hosting a series of complimentary webinars covering a range of innovative topics including adaptive design, machine learning, estimands and trial design software. In this post, we offer you a recap of the webinars we conducted in the past few weeks. You can register for the upcoming webinars in our oncology series by clicking on the button below.

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Weekly Insights from the COVID-19 Trial Tracker: Remdesivir, the Oxford Vaccine Study & More

May 7, 2020

There are now over 950 trials registered, which means that 250 new trials were registered in the past week.

Only 540 of these are currently recruiting patients. This would suggest that a number of trials are failing to reach recruitment targets. The most successful trials, though, appear to suggest otherwise. They are recruiting at an unprecedented rate.

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COVID-19: Trials, Designs and Tools for Promising Results - A Virtual Panel Discussion

May 7, 2020

An extraordinary amount of global research is underway as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and spread throughout the world. There are over 800 registered global clinical trials taking place to develop life-saving treatments and vaccines for patients. The World Health Organization is also facilitating collaboration and accelerated efforts on an unprecedented scale. In these difficult times, sponsors must utilize innovative tools and approaches to design their clinical trials in order to provide promising results for all patient populations as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

A successful virtual panel discussion was conducted by Cytel on the ongoing COVID-19 Trials, on April 15. For the second complimentary virtual panel discussion held on April 23, Cytel partnered with Certara, to present, “COVID-19: Trials, Designs and Tools for Promising Results”. It began with challenges faced by clinicians and drug developers, followed by examples of tools and trial designs currently being used to help sponsors of COVID-19 trials. Continue reading for a summary of the panel discussion.

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Webinar: A Clinician’s Perspective on Cancer Drugs Development

May 5, 2020

Cytel's team of oncology trial design and advanced analytics experts are hosting a series of complimentary webinars covering a range of innovative topics and solutions. On April 28, 2020, Cytel conducted a webinar with Professor Martin Fey, Medical Oncologist, “A Clinician’s Perspective on Cancer Drugs Development”. Our previous blog features an interview with Professor Fey where he talks about his experience of over forty years in medical oncology, the evolution of clinical cancer trials, the difference between clinically meaningful and statistically significant results, the debate around patient perspectives and other important topics around cancer drugs development.

In his webinar, Professor Fey provides us an overview of drug development for cancer treatments, clinician’s perspective on endpoints, importance of patient reported outcomes and patient perspective, and the significance of biomarkers. Continue reading this post for key highlights from the webinar.

Access webinar slides and recording by clicking on the button below.

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Weekly Insights from the COVID-19 Trial Tracker

May 1, 2020

There are currently 665 trials registered at Cytel’s COVID-19 Trial Tracker, a jump of over 100 trials in the past two weeks. Over 20% of these trials are for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, while only 10 of 17 vaccine trials are currently recruiting. Are we collectively prioritizing the correct investigational studies?

Cytel's Weekly Insights takes a closer look into what the data is now telling us. We also examine projected recruitment and completion dates for vaccine trials using two new functionalities: the Cumulative Registration function shows the total number of trials that are ongoing, when they began and when they are projected to end. The Cumulative Recruitment function shows expected enrollment by treatment.

Taken together we get a clearer picture of the journey so far and insight into the complexity of a path toward a vaccine and a cure. 

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Webinar: Transparent Machine Learning in Oncology

April 29, 2020

In our previous blog, we spoke with Alind Gupta, who works as a Machine Learning Researcher at Cytel in Canada. The interview gives you a deep dive into black-box models and transparent machine learning, and how the latter is becoming more important in clinical research today.

On March 21, Cytel conducted a webinar with Alind on, “Transparent Machine Learning in Oncology”. Alind presented our continuing work in immuno-oncology using Bayesian network models for predicting safety and survival outcomes, extrapolating from limited follow-up data and validating with external real-world data for key subgroups. Continue reading for key highlights from the webinar.

Register now to get free access to webinar slides and recording.

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Highlights from the 2020 Virtual CDISC EU Interchange by Angelo Tinazzi - Part 2

April 27, 2020

In the first part of this two-parts blog, I speak about how the European CDISC Committee (E3C) together with CDISC converted our physical event into a virtual one and was held on April 1-2, 2020. I provided a summary of the updates received from the three main health authorities - the US FDA, the Japanese PMDA and the European EMA.

This post offers an overview of the other sessions I attended at the 2020 Virtual CDISC EU Interchange. The agenda was well planned and organized. The distinguished speakers were extremely prepared and answered numerous questions after their presentations. Continue reading for further highlights from the event.

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Highlights from the 2020 Virtual CDISC EU Interchange by Angelo Tinazzi

April 24, 2020

In early March, when countries around the world started implementing lockdowns, the European CDISC Committee (E3C) together with CDISC decided to cancel our physical event in Berlin, planned for April 1-2, 2020. It was a tough decision, but unavoidable and necessary.

We did not let this dampen our spirits and immediately came up with an alternative plan – go virtual with the event! In only two weeks the team managed to pull together a revised program and the registrations were opened on the CDISC website. The scale of the event went from being Europe-only to Global, and around 300 people attended it worldwide. In the end, the event was a hit. Everything worked out very well, with no major technical disruptions and the speakers respecting the allocated time slots.

In this two-part blog post, I share a summary of the sessions I was able to attend, while simultaneously ensuring business continuity for my regular projects.

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A Clinician’s Perspective on Cancer Drugs Development: An Interview with Martin Fey

April 23, 2020

Cytel is hosting a webinar, “A Clinician’s Perspective on Cancer Drugs Development”, on April 28, 2020. Our speaker, Professor Martin Fey, Medical Oncologist from Switzerland, will brief us on treatment evolution and give us a deep dive into clinician perspective on endpoints, PRO and patients perspectives, and importance of biomarkers in oncology.

In this interview, we speak to Professor Fey about his experience of over forty years in medical oncology, the evolution of clinical cancer trials, the difference between clinically meaningful and statistically significant results, the debate around patient perspectives and other important topics around cancer drugs development.

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Weekly Insights from the COVID-19 Trial Tracker

April 23, 2020

Every Week Cytel Brings You Further Insights from the COVID-19 Trial Tracker

From April 8 through April 17, the number of clinical trials testing COVID-19 therapies has risen to 590 world-wide. An estimated 354,000 people will need to be recruited to test these treatments properly, representing a substantial proportion of all patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Last week we looked at recruitment for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. This week we take a look at studies for lopinavir, remdesivir, and plasma based therapy.

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Interview with Alind Gupta: Transparent Machine Learning in Oncology

April 20, 2020

Cytel is hosting a webinar on Transparent Machine Learning in Oncology, on April 21, 2020. Our speaker, Alind Gupta, Machine Learning specialist, will provide insights on a particular transparent ML method called Bayesian networks, and how we have been using it for HEOR and other real world applications in oncology trials. As the adoption of machine learning is on the rise, we speak to Alind about the differences between black-box models and transparent machine learning, and how the latter is becoming more important in clinical research today. Alind also speaks about the application of ML on real-world data and how it is going to evolve in the coming years.

Machine learning (ML) aims to discover patterns from data that can be used for prediction, but the use of “black-box” ML models in healthcare research and decision-making has been limited, due to clinical liability and lack of trust from stakeholders. FDA guidelines for ML-based devices mandate transparency to assure continual safety and efficiency as notable recent failures have prompted increasing ML research into bias, fairness and causality. This has ramifications for all therapeutic areas but particularly within oncology.

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Early Insights from Cytel’s New COVID-19 Trial Tracker

April 14, 2020

Last week Cytel launched a COVID-19 Trial Tracker, an Open Access tool to track the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. This central repository of clinical trials will be updated daily to ensure that all new scientific findings can be easily identified on a single website.

While early results are still coming in, there are already important insights we can glean about the current state of research from the COVID-19 Trial Tracker. Delving deeper into these insights results in important new questions about global cooperation for clinical development.

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Career Perspectives: Interview with Marc Lefebvre-Gouy, Statistical Programmer

April 7, 2020

Cytel has industry-leading experts in Statistical Programming with years of SAS® Programming expertise and in-depth knowledge of the specific clinical subject matter. Their insights into strategy, and high competence in project management ensure a new twist on the traditional CRO.

In February 2020 we interviewed Marc Lefebvre-Gouy who is a lead statistical programmer at Cytel in France. Marc made a career transition from genetics to statistical programming and in this interview, he speaks to us about programmers working across therapeutic areas, programming challenges across phases of a trial, and the top technical competencies every programmer must have. He also gives us a sneak peek of his hobby of cooking and his love for wine.

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Remote Working Arrangement – How to get it right?

April 2, 2020

On March 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his media briefing on COVID-19, described the coronavirus pandemic as “the defining global health crisis of our time"[1]. The pandemic has affected 176 countries and territories around the world. WHO is urging all governments to scale-up aggressive measures to combat COVID-19 as more cases and deaths are being reported across the globe. Until a vaccine is made available, social distancing is of the utmost importance to reduce transmission and enable health systems to cope.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible” [2]. Governments in several countries have shut down public places such as parks, gyms, malls, schools, restaurants etc., for a minimum of 15 days, to be extended depending upon the situation.

In these circumstances, it is inevitable that companies worldwide also show solidarity by allowing their employees to work remotely, from the safety of their homes. In Seattle, the hub of many of America’s early COVID-19 cases, companies including Amazon, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Google advised workers to stop coming to office in late February [3]. With more employers taking this necessary and precautionary step, the question arises - how do we ensure that it is done right?

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Webinar: Key Design Considerations for Basket Trials and Umbrella Trials by Jay Park

March 31, 2020

 

Since 1953, when the discovery of the structure of DNA was made, we have seen great advancements in genomics. Particularly, in the last few years, the industry has seen a rapid rate of adoption in biomarkers and how they can be used to improve biomedical interventions. Trial investigators have been showing interest in biomarker-guided trials such as basket trials and umbrella trials, developed under the master protocol framework. As a result, we have been seeing a rapid rate of adoption of these innovative trial methods.

In our previous blog, we spoke with Jay Park, Director, Cytel, about the concept of master protocols, their importance and future growth potential. On March 19, Cytel conducted a webinar with Jay on “Key Design Considerations for Basket Trials and Umbrella Trials”. This webinar introduced two master protocol types and explored their extension to design in various contexts from the HIV epidemic in global health to expedited oncology trials. Continue reading for key highlights from the webinar .

Register now to get free access to webinar slides and recording.

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Cytel's Response: EMA Points to consider on implications of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on methodological aspects of ongoing clinical trials

March 26, 2020

Further regulatory guidance has been released concerning the implications of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on clinical trials.

 

On March 25th the Biostatistics Working Party (BSWP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Committee for Human Medicinal Products (CHMP) published a draft points to consider guidance document on the actions that sponsors of affected clinical trials should take to help ensure the integrity of their studies, and the interpretation of the study results, while safeguarding the safety of trial participants as a first priority.

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Cytel's Response: EMA Guidance on the Management of Clinical Trials During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic

March 23, 2020

On March 20th the European Commission, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Heads of Medicines Agency (HMA) published new recommendations for sponsors on how to manage the conduct of clinical trials in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Extraordinary measures may need to be implemented and trials adjusted due to quarantine, limited access to hospitals, and healthcare professional focus on critical tasks. Here is a review of selected elements of the guidance, interpretations and recommendations.

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Cytel's Response: FDA Guidance on Conduct of Clinical Trials during the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 19, 2020

The FDA issued a guidance yesterday on how the COVID-19 Pandemic may affect the conduct of clinical trials. Below are some key messages from the guidance along with some interpretations and recommendations.

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Interview with Jay Park: The present and future of Master Protocols

March 12, 2020

In September 2018, the FDA provided a draft guidance on master protocols reflecting an increased interest in these designs by industry. This came after a 2017 editorial published by the Drs. Woodcock and LaVange from the FDA in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this guidance master protocol is defined as a protocol designed with multiple substudies, which may have different objectives and involves coordinated efforts to evaluate one or more investigational drugs in one or more disease subtypes within the overall trial structure. As the adoption of these innovative trial methods is on the rise, we speak with Jay Park, Director, Cytel, about the concept of master protocols, their importance and future growth potential. We take a closer look at their use in oncology trials where the increase in biomarker driven enrichment and stratification designs, as well as the use of companion diagnostics, ensures that master protocols are often adopted by trial investigators.

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Managing risk in clinical development: Is your data strategy fail-safe?

March 5, 2020

Generating high-quality clinical data is a vital but challenging task in modern drug development. Unfortunately, in the current era of ‘big data’ and global clinical operations, spanning multiple sites and digital systems, protecting the quality of clinical data has become harder than ever.

Planning your data strategy is, therefore, crucial to ensure a high-quality evidence package and increase the chances of successful clinical development. However, as we discuss in our new eBook, planning a data strategy is a complex process involving various considerations that require significant amounts of time and expertise to fully address.

Read our eBook for expert insights on planning a data strategy that can help overcome key challenges in clinical development and boost your success.

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In this blog, we discuss the many data-related challenges commonly faced in clinical development and how to implement a fail-safe data strategy that can overcome these challenges, bringing effective new therapies to patients.

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Bayesian Methods for Contending with Homogeneity and Heterogeneity in Real World Data

February 25, 2020

Over the past decade, a new trend began to emerge, changing the way that clinical trials are conducted. Whereas placebo-controlled randomized control

 trials remain the gold standard, in some situations, single arm trials have become an accepted way of assessing a new treatment intervention. Single arm trials establish clinical benefit by demonstrating the positive effects of a new therapy or treatment, without the need to use placebo or standard of care as a control. Instead, alternative approaches of establishing the comparison 
are used; these have become known as external controls or synthetic control arms (SCA henceforth) and include approaches leveraging real world data from various sources or evaluations of historical clinical trial data.   
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Ensuring an Unbiased Comparator Arm

February 25, 2020

Regulators in both the United States and Europe have responded positively to the use of SCAs in clinical development.[1]  While implementation of this method for 

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Drug developers: Unlock the power of your clinical data with these five top tips

February 20, 2020

It is widely acknowledged among drug developers that one of their most important assets is the data generated during clinical trials. Hence, it is no surprise that many companies plan and execute a strategy to protect the quality of the clinical data they produce. It is, however, easy to underestimate just how much time and expertise you need to address the numerous and complex considerations involved in the planning process.

Unlock top tactics and tips on how to plan a rock-solid data strategy to minimize risk and boost clinical success in our latest eBook.

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If you are keen to find out how to optimize your clinical data strategy, read on to discover five of the top tips outlined in our eBook from specialists working in the Strategic Consulting, Clinical Research Services, and Data Management teams. Their global reach ensures top insights from every corner of the world.

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Is your data strategy set up to tackle key challenges in early clinical development?

February 6, 2020

In clinical development, a high-quality evidence package is a prerequisite for a new therapy to gain approval from regulators and other key decision-makers. As such, the quality of your clinical data is one of the key factors determining whether an effective new therapy reaches patients.

Implementing a data strategy can help to protect the quality of your evidence package. However, many companies start planning their strategy quite late in the development process, which makes it difficult to address (sufficiently address) the complex considerations involved. As we explore in our new eBook, a data strategy planned well in advance of starting Phase 1 and following the industry’s best practices can help you reduce risk, expedite clinical development, and successfully achieve your business objectives.

Download the new eBook, “Are you Harnessing the Power of your Clinical Data?” to find out how to optimize your data strategy to advance clinical development.

download ebookIn our previous blog, we talked about the value of planning a data strategy for the entire duration of your program (i.e., a ‘program-wide’ strategy). However, it is also important to plan for specific phases of clinical development, because they each have unique challenges. Below we discuss the major challenges commonly encountered in Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies, and the tactics you can use to resolve them. An upcoming article will engage with challenges in Phase 3 and post-market.

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Designing Event-based Studies: Interview with Pantelis Vlachos

January 30, 2020

The Cytel Trial Design Innovations (CTDI) Webinar Series recently hosted a webinar on designing event-based studies. Such studies are essential to designing high-efficiency clinical trials in certain therapeutic areas, but they add a number of challenges to the already complex landscape of adaptive trials.

The webinar was held on January 23rd, featuring Biostatistician and pioneering Bayesian trial-designer Pantelis Vlachos. We had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Vlachos and speak about innovative trial designs and their benefits, adaptations and interim looks in oncology and cardiovascular, the challenges of designing event-based studies more generally, and how Cytel’s array of software tools, particularly East®, has enabled trial sponsors to fully consider their options in the design of high-efficiency clinical trials.

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What could you accomplish with a fresh approach to your clinical data strategy?

January 22, 2020

In the quest for clinical success, we all strive for evidence packages of the highest quality. If the clinical data is strong, then a promising new therapy is more likely to obtain approval from key stakeholders, such as regulators and payers . As a result, you’ll get the chance to develop a therapy that will help many patients (and you will likely gain returns on your investments). As we discuss in our new eBook on data strategy planning, a carefully planned data strategy can help mitigate risks to your programs and enable you to successfully achieve your goals.

Discover how to plan a data strategy that enhances your clinical programs and enables new therapies to reach patients in our new eBook.

download ebook

In the high-stakes environment of clinical development, it is never too early to start protecting your valuable data assets with a first-rate strategy. So, keep reading to learn which planning approach to use, who should be involved, when it is best to start, and why it is well worth going to all the effort.

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Adaptive Population Enrichment in a Phase III Oncology Trial

January 16, 2020

 

January’s Cytel Trial Design Innovations (CTDI) Webinar Series will feature Biostatistician and pioneering Bayesian trial-designer Pantelis Vlachos. Next week, Dr. Vlachos will speak on high-efficiency trial design for Event-Based Studies, particularly in oncology and cardiovascular trials. In this blog post, we offer a glimpse of Dr. Vlachos’ last CTDI Webinar (February 2019) on high-efficiency trial design using enrichment strategies.

Don't miss next week's webinar "Designing Event-based Studies: Reduce Sample Size and Increase Predictability"! Click on the button below to register.

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How to optimize your data strategy to drive success in clinical development

January 8, 2020

In clinical development, data is the vital ‘foundation’ that supports your programs. To successfully bring a promising new therapy to patients, the quality of your evidence must be strong enough to gain approval from key decision-makers, including regulators, payers, and health technology assessment (HTA) agencies.

So, how can you strengthen the quality of your clinical evidence package? A key solution is to optimize your data strategy. As we discuss in our new eBook on data strategy planning, making just a few small changes to your planning approach can strengthen your ‘foundation’ and generate various benefits that enhance and expedite clinical development.

Download our free eBook to find out how to optimize your data strategy to boost success in clinical development.

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Year-End Roundup: Your Favorite Blog Posts of 2019

December 18, 2019

With only two weeks left for this fabulous year to end, we would like to thank all our blog subscribers and new readers for following and appreciating the Cytel blog. This year, we collaborated with several experts from both within and outside the company to bring to you a range of interesting topics including real-world evidence, AI, challenges in rare diseases, patient-reported outcomes, data management, and our popular series “The Good Data Submission Doctor” and “Career Perspectives”. In this blog, we share with you the top 5 Cytel blogs that resonated most with our community in 2019.

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Career Perspectives: Interview with Ronald Dumpit, Data Coordinator

December 16, 2019

 

 

Cytel Inc. and Axio Research joined forces in June 2019, expanding our ability to solve the most complex analytical challenges for the life sciences industry. Cytel offers a full range of clinical data management services delivered by advanced analytics experts with global reach.

In this blog, we talk to Ronald Dumpit, who is based in Bremerton, Washington to find out more about his career path, current role at Axio and his interests outside of work.


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Highlights from PhUSE EU Connect 2019

December 12, 2019

PhUSE EU Connect 2019 was held in the beautiful city of Amsterdam between the 10th and 13th of November. This clinical data science conference comprised 19 Streams, including 150 papers, 24 posters and 3 engaging data scientists as keynote speakers. The event was well attended and had several interesting and innovative presentations. Caroline Terrill, Associate Director of Statistical Programming at Cytel UK, conducted a session “No Place Like Home: Managing Remote Programmers Remotely” and stood out as the winner in the Personnel Management category. Based on 5 years' experience of managing remote programmers, Caroline’s paper gives guidance on issues to be considered and traps to be avoided if you are managing people who work remotely.

In this blog, we share the presentations from our Statistical Programmers and summarize some of the sessions that our team members attended.

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Impact of AI on Clinical Development

December 10, 2019

In association with Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PSI) , UCB and Cytel hosted a symposium on September 11, 2019 at UCB’s offices in Slough, Berkshire. The primary agenda was to educate the audience on Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches and their impact on clinical development.

With recent advances in AI, it is important for quantitative scientists to keep up to date with the most recent methods and be involved in guiding their application to the most pressing analytical challenges. This one-day event covered cutting edge examples of how data science and statistical sciences are intersecting, and its relevance to our attendees.

“Artificial Intelligence and associated methodology is becoming increasingly important to the Pharma Industry and its technical foundation in statistical theory means that PSI is naturally keen to promote good practice through its membership and established Industry links. PSI is proud to have set up a Special Interest Group in this field and is keen to broaden its links and membership.”

- PSI Data Science special interest group

In this blog, we share some of the key takeaways from the symposium. If you are interested in attending similar sessions, you can check Cytel’s list of upcoming events here.

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Biotechs and Medtechs, don’t forget your market access strategy (part 4 of 4): How to optimize your market access planning approach

December 5, 2019

Author: Michael S. Paas, Market Access & Commercialization Expert, Executive at AbbVie and Guest Author at Cytel

In crafting your market access strategy, it can be valuable to follow these five best practices:

  1. Start planning as early as possible in the drug or device development process, to give yourself enough time to make informed, optimal decisions, and adjust your strategy when needed;
  2. Plan for global markets and seek early advice from payers and HTA agencies, where possible. There are many different agencies and payers to think about when you launch globally, so it’s vital to ensure you are sufficiently addressing the requirements of the priority markets. Even if you do not plan to commercialize by yourself in countries outside the US, careful, early market access planning with key global markets in mind can maximize the attractiveness of your asset to potential licensors or partners;
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Biotechs and Medtechs, don’t forget your market access strategy (part 3 of 4): Harnessing the value of market access planning

December 2, 2019

Author: Michael S. Paas, Market Access & Commercialization Expert, Executive at AbbVie and Guest Author at Cytel

Addressing the myriad of considerations required for market access planning can be complex and time-consuming, so it is vital to give yourself enough time to make informed decisions. As such, starting to plan your market access strategy at least by early phase II or the proof-of-concept phase of device development can help you inform the design of the clinical program in such a way to ideally generate evidence credible and compelling to payer and HTA stakeholders, as well as regulators, in order to maximize the commercial success of your drug or device.

Planning early also gives you the opportunity to make adjustments along the trajectory of development as you gain new information and insights about the asset itself, as well as about the payer and competitive environment.

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Interview with David Kerr: Data Monitoring Committees (DMCs) – Behind Closed Doors

November 27, 2019

At the 2019 Challenges in Rare Diseases Clinical Trials Symposium and East training, Cytel partnered with Alexion to bring together expertise from academia and industry. David Kerr, Director of DMC Services at AXIO, was among the notable speakers and his talk “Data Monitoring Committees – Behind Closed Doors” covered general considerations and options that the DMC has when reviewing the data presentations during their closed sessions. He presented four specific case studies that highlighted the data provided to the DMC from meeting to meeting and discussed how the DMC arrived at their recommendations for each meeting. We had the opportunity to sit down with David and speak about Data Monitoring Committees, understand their proceedings and talk about his presentation at the symposium.

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Biotechs and Medtechs, don’t forget your market access strategy (part 2 of 4): The critical role of market access planning in clinical development

November 21, 2019

Author: Michael S. Paas, Market Access & Commercialization Expert, Executive at AbbVie and Guest Author at Cytel

In my previous post, I established the importance of market access strategy in the clinical development process and why emerging biotechs cannot afford to overlook it.

Click on the button if you missed Part 1 or want to revisit it.

Read Part 1

It is imperative to start developing your strategy with market access due diligence and value story creation early in the product development (at least by phase II of drug development or the proof-of-concept phase of a device development). Impactful market access planning involves designing your clinical programs so they sufficiently address the evidence needs of market access stakeholders, patients, and regulators. This means demonstrating the value of your therapy to payers and HTA agencies by generating compelling and robust clinical trial data against appropriate comparators, augmented where possible and helpful with real-world evidence, health economic arguments, economic models and/or relevant patient-reported outcomes.

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Biotechs and Medtechs, don’t forget your market access strategy (part 1of 4): Why is market access strategy crucial to succeed?

November 14, 2019

Market access strategy is an integral part of the clinical development process to ensure success in global healthcare markets and vital access to patients

Author: Michael S. Paas, Market Access & Commercialization Expert, Executive at AbbVie and Guest Author at Cytel 

In clinical development, it’s easy to underestimate the critical role that market access plays in the commercial success of a product. Understandably, organizations instead focus on the regulators, and the steps needed to secure eventual approval. However, ensuring the development plan is aligned with a well-planned market access strategy is essential to help the therapy actually reach the intended patients and realize its true commercial potential following regulatory approval. This is particularly crucial considering that payers and other key stakeholders demand compelling information on a drug’s/device’s value as well as justification of its pricing.

In this four-part blog series, I will address what can be done to optimize your market access planning, and why all that effort is really worth it.

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Interview with Kannan Natarajan: Drug Development in Rare Diseases - Need for Innovation in Statistical Thinking

November 5, 2019

 

Cytel is delighted to have Kannan Natarajan speaking at the “Complex Innovative Trial Design Symposium and East User Training” on November 6 in Boston, MA. We got a chance to sit down with Kannan and talk about his career in statistics, the changing role of statisticians, his views on evolving statistical thinking, estimands and relevance of technology in the context of rare diseases.

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The Good Data Submission Doctor - New ADaM Implementation Guidance

October 23, 2019

 

 
October 3, 2019 was an important day for the ADaM team as it marked the release of the ADaM Implementation Guidance (Ig) 1.2. Download the new guidance from the CDISC website here.


In 2018, several previews of the new Ig were made at CDISC Interchanges all around the world and at PhUSE conferences, it was only a few weeks ago that the final version was released. At first glance, the new Ig does not seem to contain a lot of new concepts and ideas. However, a critical and in-depth review clearly shows the efforts of the entire team to release this new Ig. Creating a new standard or releasing a new version of an existing standard is not an easy job. You need to ensure that you do not introduce anything that contradicts any of the existing CDISC standards. This includes, not only new variables but also any changes in existing sentences or adding entirely new sections that may cause misinterpretations or discrepancies. Moreover, every standard team member comes with their own background, company needs, and specific indication needs. It is not always easy to propose a solution that can satisfy everyone on the team.

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The Challenges of Rare Diseases in Clinical Trials Symposium and Hands-on East Training

October 10, 2019

A disease is generally considered to be rare if it affects one patient per 200,000 people (1) and most rare diseases affect far fewer than this. However, collectively rare diseases are relatively common, affecting 350 million patients worldwide (2). The path to diagnosis for these patients is often a long, difficult battle and even once the diagnosis is made, it is likely there will be no suitable treatment available.  For 90% of rare diseases, there is no approved therapy (2). There is, therefore, a pressing need to develop new, effective therapies that can bring hope to rare disease patients. However, the clinical development environment for life-threatening, rare diseases is fraught with challenges. By their very nature, rare indications have few patients and limited sample size. This scarcity of patients also results in a lack of available information and knowledge about the disease from the best endpoints, to the treatment effect size or the variability of response between subgroups.

 

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Digital transformation in healthcare and drug development

September 12, 2019

"If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you're going to wake up today as a software and analytics company," CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt

We are living in a new digital world which is evolving every day. Both personally and professionally, we rely on technology for many of our routine activities, and examples of digitization are prevalent across industries. Retail is a big example of how several chains have moved from physical stores to creating an online presence. In some years from now, people perhaps won’t have to learn driving as more self-driven cars will hit the road. Healthcare does not fall far behind in this race towards digitization.

In this blog, we will examine some of the different ways that digitization is set to shift the drug development paradigm.

 

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Advancing Medicines Development with External Controls

August 23, 2019

 

In place of collecting data from patients recruited for a trial who have been assigned to the control or standard-of-care arm, an external control creates a comparator arm using either real-world data-sets such as electronic health records or previous clinical trials.  The external control offers a practical, effective way to leverage real-world evidence and has been applied in regulatory approvals. In this blog, we share an illustrative example of how we can help customers in this emerging area of interest.

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Keeping Clinical Trials on Track: A Statistician's Perspective

August 14, 2019

 

 


This article was originally published as part of a series by pharmaphorum in association with Cytel and is reproduced with their permission.

Ever felt like you ended up somewhere unexpected, not quite knowing what path you took to get there? This is the situation pharma companies can face without the right input from statisticians on clinical trial design – and the results can be very costly. As part of a series of articles in association with Cytel, pharmaphorum spoke with Natasa Rajicic about the vital role statisticians play in improving trial design and preventing expensive mistakes and trial failures. 

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Career Perspectives: Jayshree Garade

August 7, 2019

 

 


In this blog, from our career perspectives series,  we talk with Jayshree Garade Associate Director, Statistical Programming about her truly global career path at Cytel.  Jayshree completed her Masters degree in 2006 and began her professional career with Cytel in Pune India. In the years to follow she supported high profile trials for a number of sponsors, before transferring to our offices in Massachusetts USA. She is currently leading a programming team, working remotely from her North Carolina home.  Read on to learn more about life and opportunities at Cytel. 

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Predictive Biomarker Signature Characterization

August 1, 2019

 

 


The term biomarker signature describes the behavior of a set of biomarkers that define a signature to maximize the prediction performance. We examine the behavior of specific biomarkers as a set that consistently fluctuate together to maximize the accuracy on predicting the disease-related outcome.
How we apply a biomarker signature depends on the prediction problem. A prognostic biomarker signature is used to predict the disease progression, a risk biomarker signature is used to identify sets of subjects that are likely to develop a disease, and a predictive biomarker signature is used to determine the patients that are likely to respond to a particular treatment. Predictive biomarker signatures are used often in oncology to stratify patients with a specific cancer into sub-populations and develop targeted therapies for the diseased population subtypes defined by the biomarker signature.

In this blog, we share an example project that our data science team has worked on supporting this work.  The case study forms part of a new ebook 'Innovative Data Science and Real-World Analytics Approaches in Practice' and we are also delighted to provide the link for download as part of the article. 

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Adaptive Design and Health Economic Analysis: Interview with Laura Flight

July 22, 2019

 

 



Health economics and adaptive design methods share common ground in that they both aim to support more efficient and accurate decision making that can enable faster patient access to new health technologies. However, to date, there has been a limited understanding of how, if at all, the two approaches are being used together.

A paper, “A Review of Clinical Trials With an Adaptive Design and Health Economic Analysis,” exploring this important topic was published in the April 2019 issue of Value in Health (1) . In this blog, we catch up with Laura Flight, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Fellow and the primary author of the paper for a deep dive into the objectives of the publication, key findings and the next steps for promoting better understanding in this area.

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Estimands are not just a statistical issue- Q&As and webinar replay

July 8, 2019

 

 

Cytel recently hosted a very well-attended and engaging webinar on the topic of “Estimands, not just a statistical issue” presented by Paul Terrill, Associate Principal of Strategic Consulting at Cytel.
The webinar covered a range of issues from what is an estimand to how to structure early discussions on estimands.
In this blog, we are happy to share the replay of the webinar as well a summary of Q&As that arose on this very important topic.  For an introduction to the topic, check out our previous blog post 'Estimands 101 with Mouna Akacha'.

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Handling the specialized data requirements in oncology clinical trials

June 27, 2019

 

 

 

By Nicolas Rouillé and Eric Henniger

The right design and the right data ultimately leads to the right decisions, so obtaining fit-for-purpose data, collected based on what your protocol is looking for is vital. However, there are several data pressure points facing oncology drug developers that need specialized expertise and processes to handle. In this blog, we run through some key aspects to consider to smooth your data collection and analysis.

 

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Advancing Decision-Making at PSI 2019 Conference

June 21, 2019

 

 


The Cytel team made its annual trip to the PSI (Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry) conference 2nd to 5th June. Taking place in London, UK, the theme of this year's meeting was Data-driven decision-making in medical research. As ever, the discussions both within the official conference agenda and during the networking breaks were engaging and productive.

In this blog, we share some of the particular highlights from the sessions that our team attended. We look forward to participating again in 2020 when the conference will return to Europe. 

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Flipping the paradigm-how should biotechs harness adaptive trials?

June 14, 2019

 

 

This article was originally published as part of a series by pharmaphorum in association with Cytel and is reproduced with their permission. Scott Harris, a four-time biotech Chief Medical Officer, and principal at Middleburg Consultants, a pharmaceutical consulting organization, told pharmaphorum’s Richard Staines that using novel adaptive or seamless clinical trial models can help to cut development costs. In doing so they can reduce the risks of trial failure that can spell the end for those biotech companies without the deep pockets of big pharma behind them. 

 

In case you haven’t noticed, the traditional three-phase clinical development process is changing. While big late-stage trials are still pretty common, it’s also no longer a surprise to see sponsors refer to phase 1/2 trials, or phase 2/3, indicating that a smaller trial can be progressed to the next phase if an interim data readout supports further evaluation.

This is known as a “seamless” trial as the boundaries between each development stage have become less defined, and there are other options too.

Middleburg Consultants’ Scott Harris is a proponent of this new way of working and has personal experience of the approach after using it to steer a gastroenterology drug through the approval process.

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Opening the Black Box: Moving to Explainable AI

May 7, 2019

 

 
Nowadays, it’s difficult to pick up a mainstream newspaper or read an industry publication without seeing reference to Artificial Intelligence or AI and progress towards innovations like autonomous vehicles, or customer behavior prediction. For the biopharma industries specifically, AI represents an opportunity to avert the R&D productivity crisis with paradigm-shifting applications such as in-silico drug design, prediction of trial risks and big data analytics.
However, with every opportunity, there are risks and challenges, and in this blog, I will discuss how pharma needs to address the opacity of AI to ensure trust and credibility with all stakeholders.

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Assuring Outsourcing Obligations with Specialist Data Management Oversight

April 24, 2019

 

 

In this blog, Alla Muchnik, Senior Clinical Data Manager at Cytel, discusses how specialist CROs can add value and streamline processes by providing oversight of data management services delivered by another CRO. This model helps to fulfill essential regulatory obligations for biopharma companies who may lack their own internal oversight resources.

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Ensuring Robust ePRO Implementation: Factors for Success

April 10, 2019

 

 


In this blog, Jonathan Pritchard, Director Business Development at Cytel, draws on his experience in commercial, clinical and technology roles within the biopharmaceutical industry and shares his insights on the primary considerations for sponsors when implementing an ePRO solution.

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How Patient-Reported Outcomes Improve Outcomes: Interview with Professor Galina Velikova

March 26, 2019

 

At the Partnerships in Clinical Trials Conference in Barcelona in November 2018, Strategic Consultant Ursula Garczarek participated in a thought leadership stream tackling various developments in Real World Evidence, Pediatrics, Trial Design & Big Data. As well as participating in a panel discussion on innovations in clinical trial design, she was impressed by the contributions and innovations offered from other stakeholders across the healthcare landscape. One of these exceptional contributions came from from Galina Velikova, Professor of Psycho-social and Medical Oncology at the University of Leeds, and in this blog, we are thrilled to share an interview with Professor Velikova, in which she expands her discussion of the role of Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) and Quality of Life Measures in trials and clinical practice.

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Operation Rescue: Addressing Lagging Trials

March 20, 2019

 


No one plans to have a trial whose data collection needs rescuing. However, lagging enrollment rates, operational struggles, and diminished budgets can leave some trials in need of intervention. A great deal has been written about how to prevent the need for rescues (e.g., more investment in study planning and improved communication between stakeholders). Far less has been said about how to assemble a rescue team – the roles that need to be filled and the process of analysis that ensures the completion of a failing trial.

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Strategic Applications of Pharmacometrics in Clinical Development

March 15, 2019

 

 Quantitative pharmacology encompasses the many strategic advantages of using complex mathematical models to understand biochemical relationships that ultimately improve clinical decision-making. This includes pharmacometric modeling, familiar to those who have used pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) modeling to improve dosage decisions, and the extension of such models to the performance of meta-analyses, the construction of decision rules, and other uses involving a broad array of cases. In this blog we summarize some key areas of opportunity. 

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Statistical Approaches to Overcome Challenges in Rare Disease Development

February 28, 2019


In honor of Rare Disease Day 2019 we share a new Cytel podcast featuring Cytel Strategic Consultant Ursula Garczarek discussing how innovative statistical approaches can overcome challenges in rare disease development. Below, you can access the podcast and a summary of some of Ursula's key insights from working in rare diseases and interacting with regulatory agencies for complex and innovative designs.

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Trends in Data Science: Podcast with Ursula Garczarek on The Effective Statistician

February 21, 2019

In 2018, Cytel ran a qualitative survey among biostatisticians and programmers on trends in data science and perceptions about the goals, barriers and future of the field in the biopharma and life science industry.  Our analysis and report revealed a range of insights from the respondents including :

Lack of shared understanding of what data science represents with less than 1 in 7 of all respondents suggesting a definition of data science.
Clear trend of investment in data science across organizational types with three-quarters of all respondents saying their organizations had a dedicated data science department.

An opportunity for improved clinical trial design by using data science techniques was recognized by the majority of respondents. In addition, respondents across all functions perceive the key opportunity for data science to be in maximizing the value of real-world data. 


In a recently published discussion on The Effective Statistician podcast ( a weekly podcast produced in association with PSI)  Ursula Garczarek, Associate Director Strategic Consulting at Cytel sat down with hosts Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske to discuss where the biopharma and life science industries are headed with the application of data science.

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Publication Reveals New Promise for Promising Zone Designs

February 8, 2019

 

A 2018 publication in the  Biometrical Journal by Cytel’s Cyrus Mehta, Lingyun Liu and Sam Hsiao, ‘Optimal Promising Zone Designs’ (1) marks a new milestone for adaptive sample size re-estimation. Inspired by insights from the team's work with a number of Cytel's strategic consulting clients, it presents an easy to implement and new iteration of the popular promising zone design. The basic principle? That any investment of sample size at an interim analysis should be contingent on a minimal acceptable return on the investment. This return is expressed in terms of guaranteed conditional power, By identifying a minimum rate of return upfront, the new design offers greater efficiency to clinical trial planners. Importantly, the design concept is both easy to communicate, and easily understood among statistical and clinical stakeholders alike.
In this blog, Cytel Co-Founder and Fellow of the American Statistical Association, Cyrus Mehta shares his insights with us on the goals and key takeaways of the publication, and how it adds to the growing toolkit of intuitive adaptive designs available to drug developers today. We also share full access to the publication itself.

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Career Perspectives: Interview with Tina Checchio, Associate Director, Quantitative Pharmacology & Pharmacometrics

January 30, 2019

QPP remains at the heart of model based drug development. Short for Quantitative Pharmacology & Pharmacometrics, it refers to several types of quantitative modeling including meta-analysis, PK/PD, statistical modeling and the modeling of go-no-go decision rules. Cytel’s expert Quantitative Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics group delivers high quality solutions to help our customers get those decisions right.

In this blog we talk to Tina who lives in Stonington, Connecticut, to find out more about her career path, current role at Cytel, and her interests outside of work.

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Podcast: Overcoming Phase 1 Development Challenges

January 10, 2019

 

Nand Kishore Rawat is a Director and Head, Early Phase Biostatistics based in the King of Prussia, PA Cytel office. We recently spoke with Nand for the Cytel podcast to gain his thoughts on the unique aspects of Phase 1 development and where innovative approaches supported by thorough planning can meet these challenges head-on.  Read on for key insights or listen to the podcast. 

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New Year Round-Up: Your Favorite Posts of 2018

January 8, 2019

Happy New Year! As we look ahead to future successes and the new advancements in drug development that 2019 will bring, we are taking a moment to reflect on the topics that resonated most with our community on the Cytel blog in 2018. While these 6 most popular blogs encompass a variety of topics from across the data science, statistics, and statistical programming space, they all have in common a focus on innovative practices and application of statistical, data management, and data science excellence to achieve better outcomes in drug development.

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Highlights from the PhUSE EU Connect

December 11, 2018

PhUSE EU Connect 2018 took place in Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, 4th - 7th November and brought together a range of experts to tackle the most pressing issues facing statistical programmers today. The agenda was superb with 143 presentations in 16 different streams and nearly 30 posters. This year’s event theme ‘Future Forward’ did not disappoint and there were some very thought-provoking talks on the drug development industry's challenges and  what we can do in the future to meet these challenges. Additional hot topics were: Analytical Risk Based Monitoring, Machine Learning, and Data Standards and Governance. We found this year's event informative and well attended. 

In this blog, we share the contributed posters and presentations from our Statistical Programmers and summarize some of the particular highlights from the sessions and posters that our team members attended.

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Creating a Common Language: Forging Statistical and Clinical Collaborations

December 5, 2018

 

In this blog, Paul Terrill, Director of Strategic Consulting at Cytel outlines his blueprint for ensuring smooth communication between statistical and clinical stakeholders. Paul draws upon his 20 years of experience working as a statistician and his training background to share his guidelines for success. Whether you are a statistician looking to hone your project communication skills, or a clinician keen to maximize the benefit of statistical input to your trial, this article will provide helpful pointers.

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The Good Data Submission Doctor: 5 Top ADaM Frequently Asked Questions

November 27, 2018

 

This is the third in our blog series ' The Good Data Submission Doctor' in which Angelo Tinazzi, Director of Standards, Systems and CDISC Consulting at Cytel tackles key issues in preparing data for CDISC submission. In the previous “Good Data Submission Doctor” blog Angelo discussed his top 5 SDTM FAQ; in this article he turns his attention to the top FAQs for  ADaM. Read on for Angelo's insights.

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Can Statisticians Contribute to Enhance the Position of Patients in Clinical Trials?

November 12, 2018

 

In this blog, we talk with Robert Greene, Founder and President of the HungerNDThirst Foundation, about his upcoming presentation at Cytel’s East User Group Meeting on 14th and 15th November at Merck in Darmstadt, Germany. Robert will bring a fresh perspective to the discussion of the role statisticians can play in enhancing the position of patients in clinical trials. Patient-centricity is a key topic in modern drug development, and this session aims to encourage statisticians to question the importance of a more patient-centric approach within their field.

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Webinar: Basket Trial Design and Implementation Considerations

November 9, 2018


We are excited to announce an upcoming webinar in our Trial Innovations Series. “Basket Trials: Design and Implementation Considerations” on 4th December 2018 at 11am EST. Noted basket trial expert, Robert (Bob) Beckman will share his most recent experiences with Cytel Strategic Consulting Statistician Sam Hsiao on expanding the application of this innovative breed of trials. Bob acts as a trial design consultant to biopharma companies in addition to his role as Professor of Oncology and Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics, Georgetown University Medical Center.

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Data Management Fundamentals for Your Next Clinical Trial

November 8, 2018

 

 Data is the most crucial asset in any clinical trial and is used to ultimately drive the decision-making process related to the development candidate. Therefore, for any sponsor, paying close attention to the data management aspects of clinical operations should be paramount. The principles of data management are simple and well-founded. However, the application of these principles needs careful consideration, depending on various scenarios and the size of the organization. When implementing data management for your trial, it is critical to plan ahead and fully understand all the steps and activities involved. Fortunately, both strategic and tactical opportunities are available to help sponsors successfully
implement a data management strategy, and ensure quality and simplicity in data collection to enable subsequent analysis. In this ebook,  our experienced global data management team outlines some considerations to help sponsors navigate key decisions that need to be made throughout trial implementation.

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New publication addresses critical issues in ultra-orphan indications

November 5, 2018


Cytel biostatisticians Cyrus Mehta and Lingyun Liu, together with Charles Theuer, CEO of TRACON Pharmaceuticals have recently co-authored a publication in the journal Annals of Oncology: “ An Adaptive Population Enrichment Phase 3 Trial of TRC105 and Pazopanib Versus Pazopanib Alone in Patients with Advanced Angiosarcoma (TAPPAS Trial)”. The paper explores the features of this innovative population enrichment, adaptive sample size re-estimation trial and how it overcomes some fundamental challenges of clinical development in ultra-orphan oncology indications. The publication is timely, in the context of the August 2018 news that the FDA has launched a complex and innovative designs pilot program to facilitate and advance the use of complex adaptive, Bayesian, and other novel clinical trial designs in late-stage drug development. The initiative seeks to further innovation by allowing the FDA to publicly discuss those trial designs that are being considered through the pilot program. Indeed, the TAPPAS trial incorporated regulatory input from both the FDA and EMA and received a Special Protocol Assessment from the FDA. As of the date of publication, the authors were not aware of any other pivotal population enrichment trial that has been implemented in oncology, and therefore the paper’s deconstruction of the design’s key elements will be invaluable to researchers considering similar innovative approaches.

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The Good Data Submission Doctor: 5 Top SDTM Frequently Asked Questions

November 1, 2018

 

In this second post of the “Good Data Submission Doctor” ( read my first post The Master Recipe: Quality and Attention to Detail Matter here) I would like to go through some of my favorite SDTM Frequently Asked Questions. These are questions I regularly receive in my capacity as a CDISC Subject Matter Expert, either from my colleagues or from the sponsor. Let’s start by taking a look at five of the most recent.

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Career Perspectives: Interview with Munshi Imran Hossain, Senior Data Scientist

October 23, 2018

Cytel data scientists apply advanced statistical techniques including predictive modeling of biological processes and drug interactions to unlock the potential of big data.

In this blog we talk to Munshi Imran, who is based in Pune, India to find out more about his career path, current role at Cytel and his interests outside of work.

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Selection Bias for Treatments with Positive Phase 2 Results with Simon Kirby

October 18, 2018

 

In this blog, we talk with Simon Kirby, former Senior Director at Pfizer, about his upcoming presentation at Cytel’s East User Group Meeting on 14th and 15th November at Merck Darmstadt, in Germany. Simon will address the topic of Selection Bias for Treatments with Positive Phase 2 Results and in this blog he explains why this is a key topic of particular relevance for pharmaceutical companies in today’s climate of accelerated development. He also talks with us about his career in statistics, current research, and his book Quantitative Decisions in Drug Development.

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Highlights from the SCDM 2018 Conference

October 16, 2018

The Society for Clinical Data Management (SCDM) conference brought clinical data managers from around the world to Seattle-Bellevue, WA on September 23-26. The conference offered an unmatched opportunity to discover innovative solutions in the clinical data management industry. In this blog, we will share our data management colleagues' experiences, observed trends and contributions to the program.

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Interview with Stephen Senn: 70 Years and Still Here: The Randomized Clinical Trial and its Critics

October 5, 2018

 

We are delighted that Stephen Senn will be joining us at the EUGM on November 14th and 15th in Darmstadt, Germany. In this blog, we sit down for a discussion with Stephen about his career in statistics, his advice for early career statisticians, his upcoming research, and the topic of his presentation at the East User Group Meeting “70 Years Old and Still Here: the Randomized Clinical Trial and its Critics”.

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The "Master Recipe": Quality and Attention to Details Matter When Submitting CDISC Packages to Authorities

October 1, 2018

One of my wife’s favorite TV shows is ‘Quattro Ristoranti’ (Four Restaurants). In each episode of the show, 4 restaurants of the same style are assessed and the one getting the best evaluation wins the prize. One of the first things the TV presenter Alessandro Borghese, a famous Italian chef, does while visiting the restaurant is to assess (of course!) the kitchen and how much the kitchen and its tools are cleaned. This assessment could have a big impact on the final outcome regardless of the quality of the food served in the restaurant .... the state of the kitchen and its cleanliness influences Borghese’s faith in the chef’s work.

This is exactly what could happen in a data submission to health authorities such as the FDA: the efficacy and safety of your drug are of course what matter, but lack of traceability, or poor or insufficient documentation might trigger questions and concerns from the reviewer. While this might not impact the overall final outcome of your submission, approval could be delayed if the reviewer starts questioning what you have done by requesting changes, or new deliverables to clarify the aspects that were not sufficiently clear in your original submission.

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Decision Making in Development Programs with Targeted Therapies: with Heiko Götte

September 27, 2018

 

In this blog, we talk with Heiko Götte, Senior Expert Biostatistician at Merck about his upcoming presentation at Cytel’s East User Group Meeting on 14th and 15th November at Merck Darmstadt, in Germany. The topic Heiko will address is Decision Making in Development Programs with Targeted Therapies and he explains to us why this is a key topic for pharmaceutical companies today as they strive to improve their decision-making, and what delegates can expect to take away from the presentation.

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Career Perspectives: Interview with Adam Hamm, Director of Biostatistics

September 20, 2018

At Cytel we believe that expert statistical input has the power to shape the future of clinical development: de-risking portfolios, accelerating timelines, and increasing the probability of success.

In this blog we talk to Adam who lives in North Carolina United States to find out more about his career path, achievements, current role at Cytel and his interests outside of work.

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Novel immunotherapies lean on old methods (or how to teach your dragon old tricks)

September 17, 2018

 

Immunotherapy has brought us many promises, most notably, of a future where humans are able to harness their body’s own ability to protect them from illness. Immuno-oncology (IO) may be the ultimate frontier of that future reality, with a promise of being able to help our bodies deflect or cure us of any malignancies. Today, these therapies include cell therapies, cancer vaccine, and T-cell–stimulating antibodies, with the field continuously expanding.

While medical science behind immune-oncology (IO) treatments is fascinating and expanding at a rapid pace, so too are the statistical challenges posed by the development of these agents.

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Could data science be about to revolutionize the regulatory approval of new drugs?

September 10, 2018

 

The biopharmaceutical and healthcare industries now collect more data than ever before due to advances in the variety of information sources combined with the ability to store vast quantities of diverse data. Sophisticated machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques allow us to access
and analyze any combination of a multitude of data sources. The way that traditional controlled sources are viewed is being adapted in light of new evidence that emerges from real-world data. A recent Deloitte survey (1) found that 90 percent of biopharma companies are making significant investments in
real-world evidence capabilities to drive drug development and meet regulatory requirements.

Real-world evidence (RWE) has historically been used for post-marketing endorsement and in pricing and reimbursement negotiations. But could data science offer an opportunity to fundamentally shift this
paradigm, leading to better and more affordable medications being approved on the basis of RWE?

In June 2018, Cytel created and ran a survey asking respondents from our audience about the potential of data science approaches in the sector.  We are now excited to share the insights from the survey* ( designed as a qualitative pulse check) which reveal a powerful potential shift in the current drug development and approval paradigm.  

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