Richard Davies, vice president and solutions expert at CluePoints, says there’s “a huge opportunity” for operational efficiency gains in clinical trials

What is your background and current role?

Originally my career started in Clinical Data Management working for Fisons Pharmaceuticals in Loughborough. I helped implement a new clinical data management system there and later had the opportunity to join vendor itself. Since then I continued on the vendor side and had the opportunity to work with all kinds of technology that assists the execution of clinical trials. My role at CluePoints is to help prospective customers understand our solution and value proposition.

What does your day-to-day work involve?

It’s a complete mix. I’ll have meetings or web conferences with prospective companies where I’ll be presenting our capabilities. I’ll be working on new materials to support those activities directly or materials that support our general sales and marketing, like white papers, blog posts, conference presentations and even the occasional tweet. I’ll be reviewing ideas for product enhancements and participating in internal meetings connected with future development.

What drives your passion for your work?

Maximising the quality and integrity of the clinical data that will go on to submission. Where quality issues are detected late the remedial work is more costly and the delays more significant. New drugs get to market later and sponsors spend money in remedial work that they could be investing in new discovery. I like to think at least someone somewhere has had access to the medication or device they needed sooner because of the impact we had much earlier when the clinical research was being conducted.

What is a key frustration of your job?

The pace at which the pharma industry can embrace change. Of course I completely understand why the industry is slow but when you work for a technology and solution innovator then your key frustration is always going to be the time it takes the industry to move forward with you.

What do you see as the key opportunities and challenges in your field?

There’s a huge opportunity for operational efficiency gains and quality improvements to data collected in clinical trials. CRAs can drop or reduce legacy practices like source data verification while central monitoring and statistical data surveillance can detect data quality issues that legacy practices would never have found. To get here however there has to be process change, changes to existing roles and potentially even new roles created. In many organisations that creates plenty of challenges.

Are there any challenges specific to the UK market and how can they be addressed?

The emerging and evolving role of a Central Monitor is interesting, as the ideal candidate for this new role would probably have experience as a Data Manager. This latter role has been one that was targeted for off-shoring by many organisations over recent years and so there are less candidates than there used to be. Having said that I heard recently of an organisation that was internalising Data Management once again. So recruiting into these roles in the UK might be a challenge, but it’s probably a good time to be a Data Manager in the UK. Should I mention BREXIT too?

Do you see the clinical trials landscape changing much in the near future?

No. It’s evolution not revolution most of the time in this industry. The good news is that the clinical trials landscape is continually evolving.

What do you think could have the most impact on improving R&D success rates?

Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and data, lots of data.

What keeps you awake at night?

Nothing! My work life is very busy and dynamic and it’s complemented with my family life where I have to meet the demands of two young daughters. Sleep comes easy!

What are your passions outside of work?

Many people know me for having a passion for aviation and I’ve personally had all kinds of achievements in this field from flying for a formation aerobatic display team to also having the rare opportunity to fly a Spitfire. Today however my real passions are 4 and 5 and half years old, and they call me Dad.