Johnson & Johnson has set up a pre-competitive initiative designed to increase efficiencies in clinical trials and peers Merck & Co and Eli Lilly have decided to participate in the scheme.

J&J's Janssen R&D unit has unveiled what it calls "a global cross-pharmaceutical investigator databank", which will serve as "a one-stop repository where key information about clinical trial sites, such as infrastructure and Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training records, is housed". This will allow participating companies to "reduce time-consuming and sometimes redundant administrative work involved in identifying appropriate clinical trial sites".

The databank will house critical information about investigators and trial sites in one place, "making it easier for companies to identify appropriate trial sites and investigators for future clinical trials". Andreas Koester, head of clinical trial innovation/external alliances at Janssen R&D, said the current environment "is inefficient, costly and unsustainable", adding that the investigator databank can help "expedite the process…to deliver high-quality, effective novel medicines to the patients who are waiting for them".

The move comes a couple of months after the launch of TransCelerate BioPharma, a non-profit organisation to "identify and overcome common drug development challenges in order to improve the quality of clinical studies and to bring new medicines to patients faster". J&J and Lilly were two of the firms that set up the initiative, along with Abbott, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi, and the investigator databank project "will serve as a foundation for the TransCelerate initiative". Member companies of the latter will automatically qualify for participation.

It is anticipated that the investigator databank will be operational by the end of the year and incorporated "into one of the priority projects within TransCelerate" by mid-2013. It will be hosted by, described by J&J as "an independent, third party with expertise in clinical trial information technology and investigator community management".