March 21, 2017
On the first day of spring, this 2017 meeting was moderated by Zeshan Farooqui from BMS Canada and he welcomed three speakers for the evening: Dr. Elena Aminkova, PhD Interim Director of Project Facilitation Canadian Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre, Nathalie Ouimet, MSc, MBA Vice President Montreal InVivo and Dr. Tozheg Roshankar, DVM, Regional Research Manager Eli Lilly Canada Inc. and TransCelerate country lead, Canada.
As the first speaker and in the interest to set the stage regarding the evolution of Canada’s clinical trials, Elena provided a brief overview of the main advantages and challenges of doing clinical research in our country. Canada ranks 2nd in terms of competiveness vs G7 countries. Federal/provincial tax credits, regulatory speed of approvals and the top 10 pharma being in our country are some of the key advantages of pursuing clinical research in Canada. The challenges are not small, they are mostly seen in institutional overhead costs vs the non-G7 countries, delays attributable to contracts and budget approvals, loss of many clinical sites over the last 10 years, and finally Canada’s geography is seen as detrimental compared to smaller countries. Elena pointed out 3 significant reasons why Canada should hold and increase its share of clinical trials:
In order to boost clinical trials in Canada, several Pan Canadian initiatives such as CCTCC, SPOR, N2 and many others were put forward to address and improve the operation and environment for clinical trials in this country. CCTCC , which stands for ‘’Canadian Clinical Trial Coordinating Center’’, is one of many initiatives with a key objective to implement different projects with industry, government and health care institutions. The goal is to make Canada a destination of choice for clinical trials. Elena provided the audience with examples of different initiatives developed by CCTCC:
As the second speaker, Nathalie Ouimet, of Montreal InVivo presented key and specific initiatives that were developed by the company in order to increase the contribution of Quebec in the clinical landscape. From 2008-2014, phase 0-2 clinical trials have shown a decrease of 38% compared to 50% when compared to the rest of Canada. Due to the loss of clinical trials in Québec, InVivo was looking at where to position themselves in order to maximize economic benefits. Competing against China or India was surely not the solution. Early stage clinical trials were chosen since Montreal could be recognized as an effective and efficient world-class reference of expertise while improving business environment so that research excellence could flourish and attract more private investments. InVivo participated in the following Quebec initiatives:
MHICC: Academic CRO
C3I: Centre for Commercialization of Cancer Immunotherapy
Research Initiative on Rare and Genetic Disease in Adults
The 3rd and last speaker of the evening was Dr Tozheg Roshankar, Regional Research Manager Medicines Development Unit, at Eli Lilly and Country lead for Canada TransCelerate.
TransCelerate Biopharma Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission to collaborate across the biopharmaceutical research and development community to identify, prioritize, design and facilitate the implementation of solutions to drive efficient, effective and high-quality delivery of new medicines to improve the health of people around the world. Before presenting some of the key initiatives developed by TransCelerate, Tozheg asked everyone to see them as a framework/solution designed in a collaborative manner to respond to a problem initially identified.
One of the 5 key strategic priorities in selecting new initiatives is improving the patient experience with clinical trials. Clinical trial sponsors are encountering difficulties with identification, recruiting and retaining patients. The same applies to patients trying to find meaningful clinical trial experience. TransCelerate have created several initiatives focusing on enabling a more informed and aware patient while at the same time decreasing the patient’s burden and promoting new technology.
In conclusion all 3 speakers hoped and felt that with the new initiatives put forward, clinical research in Canada could be reinstated at the level where it deserves.