It's all about trust

TFS wants to turn talk into action

In the end of November the clinical CRO TFS organized a one-day seminar to gather the biopharmaceutical-industry and trade organizations to discuss how to position the Nordic countries as an attractive region for clinical trials. “We wanted to highlight the possibilities and inspire companies by giving good concrete examples of how the industry can help itself by working differently,” explains Daniel Spasic, CEO for TFS and organizer of the event.

The Nordic countries have in principal good prerequisites for attracting clinical research. Representatives from the different organizations and pharmaceutical companies pointed out the availability of competence, experienced professionals, the high quality of clinical research and studies, commitment and good relationships between health care professionals and health authorities. Nevertheless the amount of clinical studies has been decreasing alarmingly throughout the Nordic countries. “We have realized a little too late that we are not best in class anymore. It is now possible to do high-quality clinical research and trials at a lower cost in other countries. In addition we are a small market for pharmaceutical sales,” explains Daniel Spasic.

BIG PHARMA VERSUS SMALL BIOTECH COMPANIES

Companies like Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen have managed to restructure their in-house clinical research and trials and have consequently brought higher efficiency into the equation. By so doing they have demonstrated that the Nordic region has global competitiveness and can reach impressive metrics. Smaller companies however do not always have the luxury of choice. Tomas Leandersson, CEO of Active Biotech, pointed out that he cannot wait for the necessary infrastructure to evolve if he wants his company to deliver on shareholder demands – he has instead chosen to let CROs in other parts of the world conduct his clinical trials, if they can demonstrate skill and competitiveness. “That kind of behavior is natural and illustrates exactly the sense of urgency behind this question,” comments Daniel Spasic. “We need a quick fix and need to turn talk into action,” he emphasizes.

TRADE ORGANIZATIONS NEED TO RECONSIDER THEIR ROLE

Organizations like SwedenBio, Medicon Valley Alliance and LIF, the trade association for the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden, and other Nordic countries were present at the event and expressed their concern about the current situation. But concern is not enough, the biopharmaceutical companies showed their dissatisfaction about a lack of support quite openly. “Politicians and trade organizations representing their members are not taking this problem seriously enough and need to reconsider their role and become more active. If we let time show us where we are going we are going to end up in a situation of clear disadvantage,” says Daniel Spasic. “We need a political agenda to position the Nordic countries as a good region for clinical trials and we cannot wait any longer. In the long run this might result in a diminished ability to affect international decisions and, ultimately, in worsened patient care,” he predicts.

TURN THE TREND AROUND

In order to turn the trend around Daniel Spasic recommends sharing best practice experience among the companies working with clinical trials in the region, which was also the main purpose of the event, as well as to examine the situation in other countries with similar demographics to Sweden. “Look at their health care system, their health care infrastructure for clinical trials and their industry – what have they done and why are they doing well now compared to ten years ago?” says Daniel Spasic, citing Germany and Israel as examples. He is looking ahead and is hoping for a quick change. “As I see it the task of TFS is to raise awareness and create an opinion that can drive the positioning of the Nordic countries within clinical research and trials forward. But we need immediate support from stronger forces to achieve this,” he summarizes.

“There is a sense of urgency behind this question. We need a quick fix and need to turn talk into action.”


TFS
Largest European non-listed clinical CRO with 500 employees in 18 countries.
ounded in 1996 by Daniel Spasic.
Provides clinical research services to the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries through clinical Phases I to IV in the Nordic region, Europe and USA.