How to maximize your clinical trial budget

How to maximize your clinical trial budget

Rarely easy and never cheap, the path to many of the medical industry's greatest breakthroughs lies in the clinical trial. In fact, research shows the average cost to successfully bring a drug trial to the market is $1.3 billion.

The cost of a clinical trial in today's market makes proper budgeting more important than ever. Sponsors want to know their money is being used wisely, and they want you to stay within the budget you forecast. Research from Clinverse shows that 38 percent of sponsors say they are willing to accept a trial budget variance of less than 5 percent. Meanwhile, 31 percent say they will accept a variance of 5-10 percent.

Those are tight margins and many trials miss them due to budgeting errors. These can include mistakes made in the initial budget cycle and/or poor execution of the budget throughout the trial. Protecting your budget, your margins and your potential to conduct future clinical trials requires foresight and dedication throughout the trial. To ensure an accurate budget, start your planning today and watch out for these common mistakes.

Over- and underestimating

Simply bringing a clinical trial forward takes a lot of hard work so it’s not surprising we look at the project with the best of intentions. When budgeting for a clinical trial, however, it’s best to see the project with a pessimistic — or at least realistic — view. Don’t overestimate the capabilities of the study’s staff or the ease of bringing people into the study.

At the same time, you also need to be wary of underestimating how long start-up, regulatory or coordination aspects will take; they often take longer than you might think. In fact, only about 10 percent of clinical trials are finished within the predetermined time frame. Plan ahead and you can make your trial one of the select few to end on time, all while staying on budget.

Don’t doubt the importance of advertising and engagement

It’s likely that you can’t wait for the first patient first visit milestone, but if you haven't planned ahead with your communication and recruitment strategies you could end up waiting a lot longer to hit your recruitment goal. A sound marketing campaign is needed to get patients enrolled in the trial. Stress the benefits of the trial and be open about all of the important considerations as well. Patients will be more likely to participate in a study when they feel they have the necessary information beforehand.

Once a patient has agreed to join the trial, make sure measures are in place to support their continued engagement. Even something as simple as an email or a thank you can make patients feel better about the trial, increasing their chances of staying with it as well as reducing your risk of wasting money to find a replacement.

Set a budget to fit the trial

No two clinical trials are the same, so when it comes to crafting a strategy you can hardly employ a template. The more complex a trial is, in general, the longer it will run and the more expensive it will be. There may also be additional regulatory reviews to consider. Adopting an adaptive trial design can help you adjust your budget midway through a lengthy clinical trial, but it will make that initial forecasting far more difficult — perhaps even less accurate.

Embrace mobile technology

The study site alone can cost you 25-30 percent, and if your patients are forced to travel long distances you’ll be tasked with compensating them; you also face the risk that they may abandon the trial. Mobile technology allows you to reduce your expenses significantly by allowing patients to transmit information via their phones when applicable. This convenience also supports better patient response, engagement and dedication to the trial.

Mobile technology can also create significant savings in your real-time data capture, providing real advantages compared to the paper data solutions many trials still employ. Get mobile and digital whenever you can in order to expedite processes and lower costs.

Start forecasting for your trial today

Proper budgeting for a clinical trial has never been more important. And while it's true none of us can predict the future, it is possible to control your forecasting and protect your budget estimations. To ensure better margins for you and your sponsors, start your trial with each of the ideas above in mind.