Contract research organisation Quintiles Transnational has found a new way to access patient populations for clinical trials of oncology treatments in the US. The company has teamed up with Onmark, a leading group purchasing organisation (GPO) for community-based oncology practices, to create a national clinical trial network from Onmark’s membership base.

Under the partnership, the more than 2,100 oncology practices enrolled with Onmark will have the opportunity to take part in Phase II and III trials of investigational cancer drugs. Quintiles will also provide educational workshops to Onmark members, with training for nurses, practice administrators and clinicians on Food and Drug Administration regulations, compliance with clinical trial protocols, informed consent and other issues.

Onmark launched the network by inviting its members to participate in a Phase III trial of a potential breast cancer treatment. To date, more than 80 oncology practices have expressed an interest.

Recruiting for trials at community level is expected to have added appeal for cancer patients, as they will not have to make the potentially long journey to a university hospital. And with nearly 600 new anticancers in development, there is a pressing need for expanded access to patients and oncologists to test these therapies out, noted Kim Bergstrom, clinical advisor to Onmark and chief clinical officer of its parent company OTN.

The tie-up is the first time Quintiles has entered into an exclusive clinical trial arrangement with a group purchasing organisation. “Because the majority of oncology care is delivered in the community setting, it makes sense for us to partner with a community-focused GPO such as Onmark,” commented Adam Chase, Quintiles’ director, Global Access to Patients. By Peter Mansell