ICON, the international contract research organisation (CRO) based in Dublin, Ireland, has forged an alliance with MedAvante, a US company specialising in centralised psychiatric patient evaluation, in an effort to reduce the failure rate of clinical trials with central nervous system (CNS) treatments.

The high rate of uninformative or failed studies is “one of the most intractable problems” besetting CNS studies, the new partners noted. That includes both variability in clinical diagnosis of the target disorder and difficulty in pursuing ongoing assessment of symptom severity in a consistent and standardised manner.

Headquartered in Hamilton, US, MedAvante provides expert psychological rating services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. It aims to remove systematically potential sources of bias and variability by centralising the assessment process in CNS trials through the use of objective, standardised clinical interviews and two-way, real-time video conferencing.

This platform will combine with ICON’s global reach and expertise in clinical trial management to broaden the opportunity for more precise and reliable measurement of patients’ responses to CNS therapies.

The alliance with ICON “extends our ability to offer our services across the industry and across the globe”, commented Paul Gilbert, chief executive officer of MedAvante. Most important, though, was the gain to CNS drug developers, he added: “The ability on a larger scale to reduce the high rate of failed CNS clinical trials, which the industry recognises as unacceptable in terms of cost and lost time”.