New trial search engine steps into congested market

Another clinical trial search engine rolled out this week with talk of making it easier for patients to find studies, and vice versa. But the website, MyClinicalTrialLocator, finds itself in an increasingly congested market filled with CROs, in-house Big Pharma platforms and niche players.

Standing out among the crowd is difficult, especially when many of the sites draw heavily on the publicly available information on NIH-run ClinicalTrials.gov. MyClinicalTrialLocator takes clinical trial information from the NIH site too, but also supplements it with details sourced directly from academic medical centers, PMLiVE reports. The cancer center at John Hopkins University is among the academic medical institutes already signed up to contribute to the database.

Links to academic medical institutes, mapping functions and push notifications are central to how the search tool hopes to differentiate itself. It is also planning to roll out a social network, mobile apps and rare disease communication tools. Some competitors are already active in these areas, notably PatientsLikeMe, which introduced its clinical trial search tool just weeks ago. PatientsLikeMe has a head start because of its existing user base. Having access to this pool of patient health information means PatientsLikeMe can estimate how many members are possible participants in a trial, details of which are taken from ClinicalTrials.gov.

During tests in the U.S. last year, PatientsLikeMe claims to have helped thousands of patients find a trial. Now the platform has gone global. In stepping up their search aspirations, PatientsLikeMe and MyClinicalTrialLocator have put themselves in a space already occupied by CROs. PPD, for example, runs ClinicalTrials.com and has a study search iOS app. Big Pharmas like Pfizer ($PFE) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) also run trial participant databases.

If the new ventures are to win share, they must convince potential clients they offer something more. Rare disease collaborations with UCB, Merck ($MRK), Novartis ($NVS) and others show PatientsLikeMe has convinced some companies its databases are worthy of consideration. Now both it and MyClinicalTrialLocator must do the same for their unique clinical trial search features.

- check out the MyClinicalTrialLocator news
- here's the info on PatientsLikeMe

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