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Sustainability: More than Meets the Eye

Mike Hennessy Jr, president and CEO, MJH Life Sciences®

It is no secret that patient engagement has been a long-time obstacle in clinical research. The good news is industry has been hard at work in recent years to address this, and ultimately reduce patient burden. Technology-driven advancements, such as decentralized clinical trials, wearables, and eConsent, to name a few, have been game-changers for our industry. Another fundamental component to these efforts are approaches in addressing sustainability; together, they give us a long-term plan to make clinical trials more patient-friendly.

Personally, when I think of sustainability, among the first things that come to mind are the environment and the impact on supply chains. However, in glimpsing the content for our June issue of Applied Clinical Trials on sustainability, I quickly discovered that industry leaders are thinking about much more than that. Yes, the environment and the various factors influencing the product journey, of course, is critical, but, beneath that—sustainability in clinical research—also means continuing to search out more effective and efficient ways of achieving our ultimate goal: bringing therapies to patients faster.

Earlier in May, ACT editor Andy Studna convened an executive roundtable to share some of the ways the life sciences industry is attempting to ensure the long-term success of clinical research. While the supply chain and industry’s carbon footprint were addressed by the participants, much of the conversation revolved around the continuing efforts of bringing care to patients—and doing so through more environmentally-friendly tactics. Many patient-centric strategies were brought up, such as integrating technology, reducing travel and costs, and site selection. At the end of the discussion, many of the leaders agreed that meeting and exceeding sustainability measures, as an industry, circles back to one primary goal. Dave Hanaman, president, co-founder, and chief commercial officer, Curavit Clinical Research, summarized it well: “There’s only one ‘first’ we’re about: research. Now, that said, we can be efficient, we can be effective, we can choose sites that are efficient, and do a good job.”

Following the roundtable, we are happy to present a pair of feature articles also focused on the topic of sustainability in clinical trials. The first digs even deeper into addressing patient burden and explores how rethinking approaches in trial recruitment and participation, for example, can align well with sustainability goals. Technologies such as electronic clinical outcome assessments and telemedicine are tools that can not only benefit patients, but, as a byproduct, our planet Earth as well. The next article focuses on “digitized R&D” with an emphasis on streamlining key resources, such as remote data monitoring, to help reduce waste.

As always, thank you for reading.

Mike Hennessy Jr is president and CEO of MJH Life Sciences®