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Merck pill seen as 'huge advance,' raises hope of preventing COVID-19 deaths (Reuters)

Merck pill seen as 'huge advance,' raises hope of preventing COVID-19 deaths (Reuters)

This week Merck reported that it hopes to seek FDA approval for it’s COVID treatment drug, Molnupiravir. Velocity is recruiting patients at two of its in Rhode Island and Florida having recruited 10% of all patients in US COVID vaccine trials to date. Given the nature of the protocol, there are myriad reasons why it has been more difficult to recruit subjects to the trial compared to those for COVID vaccines. 


Firstly, this type of treatment is aimed at those who are vaccine hesitant and therefore less inclined to take part in clinical research. Secondly, the window of time to recruit people is very short. We’re looking for people not vaccinated who are living with an individual who has tested positive for COVID within 72 hours, also known as the index case. By definition, the index case is sick when this happens and not everyone wants to take part in a clinical trial. Trying to get two people to take part in a study at once is not always easy.


The Merck study signals a return to the norm for patient recruitment and the challenges are not new to us. Recruiting for COVID trials proved exceptionally fast given the heightened media attention on the industry and because the pandemic affected all of us. The approval of Merck’s drug would be an excellent part of our armoury in the fight against COVID and we’re confident the industry can meet Merck’s timeline. 


Rise of decentralised trials reframes patient recruitment - SubjectWell (Outsourcing Pharma)


This interview with Ivor Clarke, CEO of SubjectWell, caught my eye about the rise of decentralised trials. Decentralised trials have been around for some years, as he rightly points out. I have been in this business for over three decades and on the agenda of almost all conferences is a spot allocated to the topic. However, a few key issues are still missing from this discussion. 


The technology used for decentralisation techniques is not where it needs to be. The age of people who tend to take part in clinical research tends to skew older and from lower social-economic backgrounds, making it difficult for them to have the infrastructure to access the tech options presented to them.


Most devices feel like they are still in beta mode. We are spoiled with options like Amazon and Github that work so seamlessly (most of the time) and the user experience is enjoyable. We need to hack the UI of health technology even down to simple use cases like keeping an e-diary.

Velocity Clinical Research acquires 11 sites through 2 companies months after its own buyout (Fierce Biotech)


We announced Velocity has acquired two multi-site companies, expanding our site footprint by a third. Our total number of locations in our integrated network is 30, which makes us the largest company of its kind globally. This is a sign of a maturing market when consolidators start buying up other consolidators.


We’re starting to see clinical trial site companies end up in the hands of some big investors, not least after our own sale to GHO Capital back in April 2021. We expect the site management landscape to look very different in the next 12 months with more deals in the pipeline, which will impact how big pharma companies develop drugs.


Velocity tops the NC Fast 40 list (press release attached)


Velocity topped this year’s NC Mid-Market fast 40 list, despite some stiff competition from the tech and construction sectors. We can only define 2020 as a year of ‘whiplash’ as the clinical trials industry, like so many, ground to a halt in March as the pandemic broke followed swiftly by the business having to rapidly scale up its operations to cope with increased demand in the race to find a COVID vaccine. 


Amongst recruiting over 15,000 patients for COVID vaccine trials, continuing BAU studies, making five acquisitions of our own and being sold to new parent company GHO Capital, Velocity demonstrated its approach to fully integrating its sites can meet customer demand - both on the big pharma and patient recruitment ends. 


Watch the 2021 Fast 40 round table here (Youtube).




About Dr Evans

Paul joined Velocity Clinical Research as President and CEO in 2018 after 26 years of “perfect symmetry” in the site business: 13 years running sites and 13 years managing them on the sponsor / CRO side. He has held positions at PAREXEL and IQVIA in site solution roles, and was a founder and managing director of Synexus. 


He holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of London. Paul joined Velocity Clinical Research to take on what he sees as one of the fundamental industry challenges: “Patient recruitment is still the biggest problem in clinical trials. I want Velocity to set a new industry standard for delivering high-quality study data as quickly and efficiently as possible.” He has served on the Board of Trustees for the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) since 2017 and will be Chairman in 2020.

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Last Updated: 08-Oct-2021