INTRODUCTION: Contract research organization (CRO) support is largely included in clinical trial management, although its effect in terms of time savings and benefit has not yet been quantified. We performed a retrospective multicenter analysis of lung cancer trials to explore differences in term of trial activation timelines and accrual for studies with and without CRO involvement.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Results regarding study timelines from feasibility data to first patient enrollment were collected from 7 Italian thoracic oncology departments. The final accruals (screened/enrolled patients) are reported. We considered CRO/sponsor-administered and CRO-free trials according to who was responsible for the management of the crucial setup phases.
RESULTS: Of 113 trials, 62 (54.9%) were CRO-administered, 34 (30.1%) were sponsor-administered, and 17 (15.0%) were CRO-free. The median time from feasibility invitation to documentation obtainment was 151 days in the CRO-administered trials versus 128 in the sponsor-administered and 120 in the CRO-free trials. The time from document submission to contract signature was 142 days in the CRO-administered versus 128 in the sponsor-administered and 132 in the CRO-free trials. The time from global accrual opening to first patient enrollment was 247 days for the CRO-administered versus 194 in the sponsor-administered and 151 in the CRO-free trials. No significant differences were observed in terms of the median overall timeline: 21 months in the CRO-administered, 15 in the sponsor-administered, and 18 months in the CRO-free studies (P = .29).
CONCLUSION: Although no statistically significant differences were identified, the results of our analysis support the idea that bureaucratic procedures might require more time in CRO-administered trials than in sponsor-administered and CRO-free studies. This bureaucratic delay could negatively affect Italian patients' screening and enrollment compared with other countries.