CROs line up to advise Big Pharma's R&D think tank

The Association of Clinical Research Organizations, which represents the world's largest CROs, is putting together a sort of contractors' council to weigh in on the efforts of TransCelerate BioPharma, a nonprofit group run by the biggest names in drug development.

ACRO is putting together what it calls a CRO Forum, inviting its members to join what will become a formal mechanism for the industry to provide input on TransCelerate's efforts to make pharma R&D more efficient. The group should be ready to get off the ground early next year, ACRO said, and the plan is to provide subject-matter experts to inform TransCelerate's decisionmaking while providing consistent feedback on the organization's projects.

Since its launch in 2012, TransCelerate has focused on ways to help Big Pharma share resources and stop wasting time and money on noncompetitive work, looking to standardize how sponsors communicate with sites, implement risk-based monitoring technology and anonymize data.

And while the CRO community has a cordial but informal relationship with the nonprofit all along, ACRO Chairman and Icon ($ICLR) CEO Ciaran Murray said it's time for the two organizations to better align themselves, and CRO Forum is just the framework to make that happen.

"As CROs in general, and ACRO members in particular, are often at the forefront of implementing the innovations advanced by TransCelerate's members, we believe the time is right for more direct interaction," Murray said in a statement. "We will be reaching out to the broader CRO community to gauge interest in participating in the Forum."

TransCelerate has been producing a steady stream of guidelines over the past year, weighing in on clinical trial design, patient privacy and monitoring technology. The Philadelphia-headquartered nonprofit has also signed a deal with Cognizant ($CTSH) to help standardize how sponsors and sites communicate, and teamed up with Medidata ($MDSO) to promote risk-based monitoring in clinical trials.

The group's membership includes AstraZeneca ($AZN), Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Pfizer ($PFE), among others.