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The Clinical Trials Industry’s Weekly News Update

CROs struggling to find staff with the skills to run cancer drug trials

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Cancer drug studies are best conducted by organizations with a skilled and stable workforce. According to the authors of a new study, the challenge is finding people with the right knowhow and that increasing competition, and the pandemic has exacerbated the situation.

The study – by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, the Cancer Research Consortium of West Michigan, the Sarah Cannon Research Institute and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University – revealed that retaining skilled staff is a major hurdle for CROs.

“The conduct of clinical cancer research has faced considerable challenges in recent years, and the situation has only been exacerbated by the global pandemic.

“The growing complexity of clinical trials and rising administrative burdens had been causing greater expense and difficulty in recruiting and retaining an appropriately trained workforce even before the well-publicized increase in turnover caused by the pandemic.”

To try and address these hiring challenges CRO and research centers have revised their compensation packages according to study author, Suresh Ramalingam.

“During the pandemic, institutions have tried to raise the salary of clinical research staff, provide flexible work options whenever possible, redistribute workload, and undertake efforts to promote job satisfaction.

“Unfortunately, there are no quick answers to this problem, and the situation calls for the research community to develop solutions to simplify clinical trials processes and develop strategies for training and recruiting a new generation of clinical research workforce.

ASCO support

Fortunately, for CROs struggling to attract talent various industry initiatives are starting to make a difference according to the authors, who cite efforts by the ASCO Road to Recovery task force as an example.

According to the authors, “research sites should provide cross-training to clinical investigators and research staff and enable remote work options.

In turn, “sponsors should mutually recognize standardized clinical research training, including Good Clinical Practice, human subject protection, and conflict-of-interest training, to eliminate duplication and burden.

The authors also suggest that “ASCO should leverage its ongoing programs, such as the Virtual Mentoring Program and networking spaces at live meetings, to support clinical investigators and research staff in establishing mentoring connections and the sharing of best practices.”


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