Amid pandemic, LabCorp's CRO unit Covance pens decentralized trials pact with Medable


Digital clinical trials firm Medable is teaming up with Covance to allow the CRO to better navigate the COVID-19 disruption by using its virtual trial platform.

Under the deal, financials of which have not been shared, Covance’s patient and site interface will be powered by private, California-based Medable’s modular software platform, providing “immediate access to applications that will allow patients to participate in decentralized clinical trials,” according to a statement.

The platform will also enable data and system interoperability as well as facilitate remote data collection and engagement between patients, sites and clinical investigators, it adds. Covance began its own decentralized approach late last year but is tapping Medable to boost its reach.

This comes as the FDA is encouraging pharmas and CROs to engage with virtual or decentralized trials that use telemedicine tech to run trials from people’s homes and away from central sites, which has become increasingly difficult amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It follows similar pacts by the likes of PPD, which is tapping another virtual trial specialist, Science 37, for its “siteless” approach to trials.

“Working together, we can apply the full capabilities of LabCorp Diagnostics business, Covance, and our technology ecosystem to extend patient access, improve the patient experience, and accelerate timelines for clinical development,” said Bill Hanlon, Ph.D., president for enterprise solutions at Covance. 

“We will continue to play a critical role as aggregators and integrators to provide customers with the access, flexibility, and scale necessary to enable global decentralized studies, and to rapidly innovate in ways that improve the patient experience and trial efficiency.”

In its first-quarter financials published a month ago, LabCorp, the parent company of Covance, said its CRO unit saw its performance “challenged by COVID-19 due to actions clients are taking that are slowing clinical trial progress and the associated testing as well as reductions in trial site access in certain countries and interruptions in the supply chain that can temporarily delay study activity.”

The company hopes the virtual approach will help it reduce this challenge in the coming quarters, which has hit most CROs this year.

“Working with LabCorp Diagnostics and Covance allows us to deepen patient engagement and reduce burden for trial participants, and this decentralized trial ecosystem will help us get effective therapies to patients faster,” added Michelle Longmire, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Medable. “This innovative ecosystem will accelerate trial timelines.”