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J&J, Merck, Lilly join forces on global trial site database

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The open R&D movement just took another step forward. A trio of pharma giants--J&J ($JNJ), Merck ($MRK) and Eli Lilly ($LLY)--has reportedly begun to create a "one-stop" database to help streamline their work with clinical trial sites worldwide, enlisting direct input from an international network of more than 100,000 investigators. The goal is to set up an industry clearinghouse of information on the research sites, giving the world's biggest drug developers a simple, centralized view of the infrastructure and equipment on hand at each location as well as good clinical practice (GCP) training records, according to a report in Reuters.

"GCP doesn't get any better if the investigator takes it repeatedly," Andreas Koester, J&J's head of clinical trial innovation/external alliances, tells Reuters. "We wouldn't have to ask each site--do you have a centrifuge, or do you have a minus-70 degrees freezer?"

By combining the data at one online location, the companies have a shot at reducing the paperwork that can plague studies, adding time and money for every drug program. The move also reflects the growing globalization of drug studies as R&D expands in emerging markets. And Koester adds that other drug companies are expected to join the effort once all the kinks have been ironed out.

As Reuters notes, there have been a number of industry collaborations set up recently to achieve greater efficiency in the multibillion-dollar R&D industry. The trend now is to map out areas where the companies can work together in an open environment rather than duplicate efforts. And that has begun to extend into new work on future products, where investigators can share precompetitive information that could ultimately improve drug development success rates.

- here's the story from Reuters
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