By Laurie Meehan, Polaris Compliance Consultants, Inc.
In the clinical research industry, we’re always evaluating things. We evaluate drugs and biologics. We evaluate medical devices. We also evaluate research techniques. Yes, we try trials. We study studies. That’s what Pfizer was doing when it launched its REMOTE pilot trial in early 2011 – evaluating the effectiveness of a study in which patients participated remotely, without ever having to visit a study site. How would the results of the REMOTE study compare with those of a similar, completed, conventional study? Would this innovative research approach be validated?
There were plenty of good reasons for Pfizer to try to answer these questions. “Virtual” trials would make research participation possible for patients who live far from investigative sites, or for patients who have trouble moving about. Virtual trials may reduce patient withdrawal rates, as remote access would likely be more convenient and require less of a time commitment from patients. They also have the potential to save research dollars.