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Castor: Demand for decentralized trial tech growing due to pandemic

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COVID-19 has increased demand for decentralized clinical trials according to Castor, which says its technology is being used to support more than 250 studies targeting the disease and the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 40 countries.

New Jersey-based Castor shared details of its involvement in the fight against COVID-19 last week, explaining it has already captured more than 139 Million data points for the various clinical studies.

Specific programs include the WHO’s Solidarity trial, which is looking at how existing drugs might improve outcomes for COVID-19 patients, and the EU COVID-RED study, which is looking at how devices can improve diagnosis.

Accelerated start-up

Castor provides pharmaceutical companies that use its technology with pre-built electronic case report forms (eCRFs) based on World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

The firm claims the report cards can help researchers start their study or registry in less than an hour and saw emergency COVID projects go live within 6.5 days on average.

And demand for decentralized trial technologies is likely to continue growing according to CEO Derk Arts, who told us the emergence of new viruses as a major adoption driver.

“When novel strains of viruses like the Coronavirus emerge, data is clearly our most valuable asset. Our research platform has been made available for hundreds of COVID-19 studies across the world.”

Castor is providing free access to its electronic data capture (EDC) and decentralized clinical trial (DCT) solutions to support development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.

He told us “During the pandemic and to help assist in the fight against COVID, we made our platform available for researchers working on COVID-19, here are two links that go over more of the program. This free access is only grated to researchers working on COVID-19:

Decentralized trials

Castors comments are in keeping with the findings of a recent survey of pharma and biotech professionals by VIVLNK, which revealed that 44% of those asked said they had adopted remote patient monitoring or plan to do so in the next year.

A majority – 65% – of survey respondents who said they are using RPM cited concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic as their primary driver for using the technology.

Arts told us, “There is a lot of demand for Decentralized Trial capabilities, but the industry has been talking about patient-centric design and patient-centric trials for some time now. Decentralized Trials is just the application of that methodology.”

He also predicted that demand for such studies would continue to increase after the pandemic.

“We believe the industry will continue to utilize decentralized trial methodologies and older trial models together in a hybrid fashion,” he said, adding “Decentralized trials offer a patient-centric approach, addressing various patient needs that often go unmet in traditional designs. DCTs benefit sponsors by accelerating clinical development.

“Decentralized trials also enable more representative patient access and develop a stronger evidence package than traditional trials,” Arts said.

Image: iStock/Melpomenem

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