With the average cost of a Phase III trial reported to range from US$11.5 to $52.9 million depending on the indication, there’s no denying that clinical research is an expensive endeavor. There are numerous causes for these eye-watering numbers, and the industry is actively pursuing innovative approaches to address these challenges.

One approach that is gaining ground is the application of competitive intelligence. Traditionally considered in the arena of marketing, harnessing information and applying data analytics to clinical trial data is enabling those involved in drug development become leaders in the field.    

Why competitive intelligence?

Efficient, timely and successful clinical trials are the ultimate goals of sponsors. However, efforts to achieve these goals are often undermined by outdated protocols and avoidable oversights. For example, failure to meet enrollment targets and unnecessary amendments to trial protocols represent a $2 billion problem for the industry.

In parallel, the development of clinical trial registries, the call for greater transparency in reporting clinical trial data and the globalization of trials has emerged in recent decades. Together, these factors have led the industry to increase the use of competitive/business intelligence to inform decision-making processes across the life cycle of a product.  

As an initial step, knowing how competitors are performing will help gauge how your own company is performing. For example, are past trials that you’ve run on par with those run by competitors? If not, why not?  Such information is crucial for decisions such as whether a pharma company continues to outsource their trials to a contract research organization (CRO) or could be used by a CRO to build their case when competing for contracts. However, it’s important to note to enable accurate benchmarking, industry standards and global milestones for clinical and operational data are needed.


What data to use?

In a survey of what type of intelligence was gathered and what resources were used to help companies develop their perspective on a competitive issue, clinical-trial phases and updates of competitors gained from conferences, clinical trial databases, press releases, social media and external vendors were among the plethora of information gathered.

Some have argued that there is not enough transparency yet in reporting clinical trial data to radically change the competitive landscape, whereas others acknowledge that the value of the data will depend on how the information is used. For some, the release of data by larger pharma companies could help smaller companies refine their own clinical trials. In this regard, our CT.g Analytics and Protocol Analytics, for example, are ideal tools to help develop protocols for a particular indication.

The global reach of a company can also affect data-gathering efforts. Large companies that can perform competitive intelligence on a global scale can react more agilely to conditions that might affect trial outcomes or their marketing position outside the company’s headquarters location.


“Knowledge isn't power until it is applied”

Regardless of how intelligence is obtained, accessing the data is only half the story; interpretation is key to leveraging this information. Skilled competitive intelligence analysts can help turn the knowledge gained into actionable recommendations and strategic planning. Some questions that a pharma company might ask include does the competitor use the same CROs or locations for its trial activities? Can marketing messages be gleaned from the trial data? Or, if a competitor is completing a pivotal trial early, how will that affect your own product’s cycle?

Meanwhile, CROs might use data to determine the most appropriate investigator sites, based on parameters such as historical performance, quality assessment and market intelligence (for an example of how to use one of our tools to help with such questions, see our previous blog). Such insight can then be used to reduce recruitment timelines by identifying available patient populations around investigator sites that can tap into referral opportunities.

In sum, “knowledge isn't power until it is applied” so said Dale Carnegie, author of the multi-million-copy best seller How to Win Friends and Influence People, and at Bracken Data, we have a suite of tools to help you unlock that power.


Industry teams use BrackenData Analytics to analyze data on their competitors' clinical trials. Signup to get a personal demonstration of how to use BrackenData Analytics for competitive intelligence:

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