Novartis becomes deeper Science 37 partner, as pair aim for 10-trial launch

Novartis headquarters
Novartis already has so-called “virtual trials” with Science 37 in place for cluster headache, acne and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. (Wikimedia Commons/Andrew/Flickr)

Big Pharma Novartis is teaming up with virtual clinical trial company Science 37 to boost the Swiss major’s ability to run “site-less” studies.

The Sanofi, Google, Novartis and Amgen-backed trial services company, which already has deals with a number of Big Pharmas, said it and Novartis are slated to “launch up to 10 trials with increasing decentralization over three years, scaling to site-less model.”

The pair plan to do this using modern tech and “decentralizing trials,” i.e., via the use of mobile phones and telemedicine services to help find patients for its trials regardless of geography and, importantly. This also allows them to keep the tests ongoing—something that has been a systemic problem across the industry for years.

Novartis, an early investor in Science 37, is no stranger to its approach. Indeed, it already has so-called “virtual trials” in place for cluster headache, acne and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Now it wants to boost that, with an aim to launch 10 trials over the next three years.

These are set to begin later this year in the U.S., notably in dermatology, neuroscience and cancer, although an exact breakdown of what drugs, and stages, were not provided. It will use Science 37’s NORA tech, i.e., its form of telemedicine and other digital services, and connect this to its trials.

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“Novartis aims to run studies in ways that overcome many of the barriers patients face when deciding whether or not to enroll in clinical trials, like long journeys or extensive time spent at hospitals or trial sites,” said Rob Kowalski, ad interim Head of Global Drug Development and CMO.

“With our shared vision of futuristic trials enabled by technology, we’re excited to expand our collaboration with Science 37 to pioneer a new, patient-centric research model.”

New Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan took to Twitter Wednesday morning to comment on the pact: