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Pfizer’s virtual trial fails in recruitment drive

Published on 07/03/12 at 02:07pm
You Tube clip
The animated YouTube video which outlined the trial's basics to patients

The world’s first ‘virtual’ clinic has failed to recruit patients in the US, representing a major blow to Pfizer. 

The study was looking to recruit 600 patients suffering from overactive bladder disorder, and was asking them to use electronic diaries.

It was designed so that patients could avoid having to travel to clinics during the trial. 

It was a first for pharma – as reported by Pharmafocus last year – but the hype has succumbed to practical difficulties.

“It didn’t recruit”, Miguel Orri, senior director of clinical sciences at Pfizer, said at the ‘partnerships in clinical trials’ conference in Orlando this week.

He said that the problems stemmed from a failure to ‘appreciate what patients need’. Specifically, he said, Pfizer found that patients don’t want to divulge their medical information online, as they wory about data protection. 

Another problem is that many patients affected by overactive bladder disorder are elderly, and do not use the internet as regularly as younger patients. 

Orri also admitted that aspects of the process were ‘quite complicated and tedious’, adding to the difficulties in getting patients signed up for the trial.

But the firm says it has now taken steps to revamp the model by creating a new call centre to helps patients through the initial steps. 

Pfizer said it was also receiving feedback from participants to help shape its new plans for the virtual trial model. 

This feedback will help the firm with its European virtual trial, dubbed REMOTE 2.0.

Learning from the mistakes in the US, Pfizer said it would contract a recruitment vendor to help patients through the initial setup process, making it easier for patients. 

All participants in the European trial will also receive a communication device to help with updating their e-diaries.

Ben Adams is the reporter for Pharmafocus and InPharm.com and manages the DigiBlog site. He can be contacted via: email or Twitter.

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