Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a confluence of forces, from technological advancement to the need to transform antiquated clinical trials models led to increasing calls for “patient-centricity” and “decentralized clinical trials.” But industry sponsors are heavily regulated and have built up complex, silo-intensive divisions of labor that make change often slow and frustrating. But COVID-19 changed much of that. As TrialSite recently reported, the move to virtual or decentralized trials requires more than “just flipping a switch.” From issues involving sustainable trial design and protocol strategy to local and national law considerations to detailed logistics involving specific therapeutic area delivery, those firms that don’t critically vet, challenge, and work to transform their own paradigms will most certainly lose out. With the acquisition of GlobalCare, LabCorp’s Covance, a major clinical research organization (CRO), executes on a strategy to enable decentralized clinical trials (DCT). The CRO probably understands that it can’t necessarily transform without new fresh ideas, culture and professionals, with new perspective and experience, dedicated to new models of home health care delivery in the context of clinical trials. The world of clinical trials is changing, and undoubtedly, Covance with this acquisition just moved ahead of at least some of their competitors when it comes to a commitment to not only understand home health care but to mastering it in the context of the clinical trial.
TrialSite offers a brief breakdown of this acquisition for those that are interested in this sort of market movement.
What is GlobalCare?
GlobalCare purports on its website (now part of Covance) to bring “over 100 years of experience in the clinical trials and home healthcare industries supporting over 400 studies in over 50 countries by effectively delivering high quality and convenient clinical trial services in the home or alternate-site setting.” Founded in 2010, the company maintains a headquarter office in the Chicago area and an office in Spain.
By establishing and maintaining a network of “ambulant clinicians and Country Coordinators,” the company essentially has been building a home health delivery network in both America and Europe, that can be employed by CROs and industry sponsors to conduct clinical trials with patients actually at home. The company positions that it supports all phases of clinical trials and, of course, now that this relatively small firm (TrialSite believes under 100 actual employees) is part of the Covance family of offerings, they are now in the Major Leagues.
Who founded the company?
The company was founded by Gail Adinamis. She spent nearly four decades involved with comprehensive Phase I-IV clinical trials, including over 12 years working with Abbott Laboratories and Astellas Pharma in clinical trials management. Ms. Adinamis led the clinical trials division of Caremark, Inc.
Why did LabCorp (Covance) buy GlobalCare?
Because the Covance team identified GlobalCare as on the leading-edge of a very important movement: on demand home health care organized and mobilized to efficiently and effectively support clinical research. And ultimately this will support their nascent Decentralized Clinical Trial (DCT) offering. Covance is building out its DCT offering and the acquisition helps the CRO meet robust demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also the deeper, more profound longer term trend driven to make it easier for patients to even participate in clinical trials. After all, the lack of participating patients in Phase 3 trials is often the cause of major costly delays to clinical trials.
What are specific benefits Covance hopes to achieve?
By acquiring and incorporating the GlobalCare offerings into the Covance DCT bundle of services, the CRO in theory can now offer industry sponsors more effective and efficient, site-less or at the very least, trials with less site dependence. This can translate into a number of benefits from saving clients time (the need for speed in drug development if of paramount importance) but also patient-centricity, making it potentially easier to recruit and retain patients in the United States and Europe.
Moreover, Covance positions that by incorporating this decentralized trial offering, Covance “streamlines” vendor management and the contracting process (e.g. less sites, etc.).
Does this acquisition give Covance a potential competitive advantage over other CROs?
Yes, if they determine how to efficiently and seamlessly integrate this nascent offering into its broader DCT bundle of services. And, of course, biopharmaceutical sponsors ultimately consume results. The return on investment for the GlobalCare offering in the context of decentralized trials must be understood over time.
What about other CROs—are they buying or building similar capability?
TrialSite cannot answer this question as of yet. However, TrialSite recently conducted a survey of decentralized trials, which led to an article authored by Joseph Constance. Although COVID-19 has been an intensive catalyst, the growing industry move to decentralized trials was well on the way. TrialSite continues to investigate other aspects of decentralized trials and that could include a survey of CRO capacity in the area of home health care delivery.