Effect of Contract Research Organization Bureaucracy in Clinical Trial Management: A Model From Lung Cancer

E. Gobbini, S. Pilotto, G. Pasello, V. Polo, M. Di Maio, F. Arizio, D. Galetta, P. Petrillo, R. Chiari, R. Matocci, A. Di Costanzo, T. S. Di Stefano, M. Aglietta, C. Cagnazzo, I. Sperduti, E. Bria, S. Novello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-198
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Lung Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Bureaucratic procedures
  • CRO
  • Clinical trials
  • Patient accrual
  • Timelines


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