After setting up a wholly owned subsidiary in Osaka last year, US-based patient recruitment specialist BBK Worldwide has deepened its involvement in the Japanese market by forging a strategic alliance with CROèe, the first contract research organisation in that country to focus on enrolment management.

The two companies will together support research sponsors with the aim of accelerating time-to-market for new medicines and other treatments. According to Jeremy Buchman, regional manager, Asia-Pacific operations for BBK Worldwide, the company’s planning and patient recruitment services will complement CROèe’s operational and local expertise, a combination “that will provide clinical trial sponsors with proven tools and techniques for effective patient recruitment”.

When BBK Worldwide provides patient recruitment and e-business solutions to the clinical R&D and marketing segments of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. When the company opened its Osaka office in March 2009, the rationale was to tackle Japan’s notorious drug lag – something the national government is also addressing through a five-year programme to regenerate the country’s clinical trial environment.

According to Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency, it takes on average 2.5 years longer for a drug to become available in Japan than in the US and Europe. Interviews conducted by BBK before establishing its Japanese subsidiary suggested that the main reasons for these delays included inefficient patient accrual, problems contracting with sites and insufficient or inaccurate feasibility planning for patient enrolment.

One immediate benefit of the strategic alliance, noted Sho Ando, president of CROèe, will be the ability to offer sponsors a more reliable process for site identification and selection.

Bringing together BBK’s physician database, the BIO NotifierSM, and CROèe’s patient database will help clinical trial sponsors quickly and efficiently to find appropriate patients and investigators they were previously unaware of, Ando said, adding that the partnership with BBK Worldwide will “revolutionise the feasibility and patient recruitment processes within Japan”.

Founded in 2009, C specialises in patient-recruitment advertising, maintains the country’s first system to prevent double enrolment in Phase II and III clinical trials, and is also involved in post-marketing activities.