ClinicalTrials.gov (CT.g) is the world’s largest clinical trial database with data from over 225,000 trials registered on the site to date. With so much data, it’s a goldmine of information for anyone that wants to find out just about anything about clinical studies. It was originally setup by the NIH to give patients and medical professional an easy method for finding clinical trials to participate in. However, because of this it has also become a powerful tool for getting in contact with clinical trial teams for business development purposes. In this post I’m going to tell you exactly how to use CT.g to get information you can use for your business, but first a little more about why you might want to be doing this.
Who Uses CT.g for Business Development and Why
When a clinical trial team registers their clinical trial on CT.g they will upload specific data about their operations to the site. Teams often share contact information, how many subjects they plan on recruiting, where the sites they'll use for recruiting are, and any sponsors involved with the trials.
As a business development rep, one of your main goals is collecting organizational and contact information. What organizations would be a good customer or partner for your business? Who else is connected to or sponsoring that organization? Who are the individuals at this organization I can reach out to immediately to find out more? These are the key questions you want to be asking, and that you can answer effectively by looking at a trial record on CT.g. So what kind of teams should use these trial records to answer these questions?
- Patient recruitment agencies
- Software providers
- Medical device sales teams
- Clinical trial supply companies
In each of these cases it’s pretty clear why a salesperson would want to collect contact information, and get insight into partnering organizations – there’s a product to sell, and a clinical trial team who fits the product need. The key to using CT.g effectively is figuring out how to narrow search results to find the best product/need fit.
How to Find Product/Need Fit
Finding the studies that will have a need for your product or service is all about familiarizing yourself with the search options on CT.g. To take a look, simply go to ClinicalTrials.gov, hit advanced search, and voila – you can see all the search options.
The most useful searching features are:
- Study type
- Funder Type
- First Received
- Last Updated
Generally, you’re going to want to be looking at interventional studies that have budget to spend and have recently registered or updated their trial on CT.g. For this reason you’re going to want target industry sponsored trials (not NIH, federal, or academically funded trials), and filter first received or last updated to the last few months. Also note that contact information gets taken of the trial record once recruiting is complete, so you're better off looking at recruiting or not-yet-recruiting.
To see how someone might use this advanced search, let’s use an example. From the types of business development teams I listed above, let’s look at CROs. CROs are trying to get involved with a clinical trial team before the trial has recruited its first subjects. A CRO team also only sees high value in targeting teams that will likely have more clinical trials to conduct in the future. For that reason, a CRO team will probably narrow its advanced searched to find service/need fit with the following filters:
- Recruitment: not yet recruiting
- Study type: interventional
- Phase: 0 or 1 (because we want teams that have yet to start the process for Phase 2 or up)
- Funder type: Industry
- First Received: 01/01/2016 (I’m conducting this example on 5/20/16, so everything since January 1st seems like a reasonable window of time)
When I search with this criteria, there are 242 results. As you can see it’s a little more targeted than trying to get contact info for all 214,000 trials registered on the site. Play around with the search criteria to see if it yields more targeted results. For example, your team may like to focus on studies for specific conditions, or specific locations.
I’ve Completed My Search. Now What?
Now you should have the 200 or so trial records that are most relevant to your business. Here comes the fun part: picking apart the results one-by-one to find the contact information. (If this sounds tedious and you feel like stopping here, scroll down where we go into a much faster method to do this).
My workflow for mining contact information from this list works like this:
- Copy the search result URL and paste it somewhere else like Microsoft Word or Evernote (because I sometimes accidentally close the tab, and don't want to redo the advanced search)
- Right click on each trial record on the first page one-by-one and hit “open in a new tab”. (You can also ctrl + click on a PC, or command + click on a Mac)
- Now with 20 trial records open in other tabs, I go through each of these tabs and scroll down to “Contacts and Locations”
The “Contacts and Locations” section, and the “More Information” sections are going to have most of the information you want. I’ll quickly copy and paste the contact information, sponsors and collaborators information, and investigators information into a spreadsheet. To stay organized I’ll also copy and paste a link to the trial record, and the NCT number.
The contact information is your big win here. After going through about 200 results I’ll have 200-400 names, phone numbers, and email addresses to reach out to. Because they are in a spreadsheet I can save as a .CSV file, I’ll sometimes upload it to my CRM and do a mail merge or later email all 400 at once. Bonus points if you have a power dialer setup to call the contacts.
The contact information attached to these trial records is often just for the research team involved with the trial. For some teams this is exactly what you need. If so, lucky you! Most of us, however, would actually rather try and sell to the sponsors or investigators involved with the trial. In this case, the work is far from over, but at least you have a nice long list of Investigator and Sponsor organizations to go prospect. From here, I’ll take the organization names and look for relevant job titles of employees via Linkedin or Zoominfo, and then use a number of tools to find the right person’s contact info (I recommend checking out ZoomInfo, Email Hunter, or Datanyze).
A Much Faster Method
The above process I’ve outlined is effective for getting contact information from research teams, and finding out which sponsors and investigators are active in newly registered trials. However, this process of opening trial records one-by-one, and then copying and pasting information is tedious. Getting a spreadsheet together of 400 names could take 2 days or more. However, with the right tool you can actually accomplish all of the above in just a few clicks.
TrialFinder, BrackenData's popular tool for business development and market research teams, mines the data on ClinicalTrials.gov to show you everything an advanced search on CT.g will yield, and more. It’s a robust tool, but to try and sum it up in a few steps:
- Look at the maps, charts, and stats that represent the CT.g database
- Toggle search criteria on and off to see the data change dynamically
- Get all the associated information, study by study, in the table at the bottom
- Export the data from the table into an excel document
In 4 steps all of the contact information, start dates, sponsor info, recruitment expectations, and more are in a spreadsheet ready to be shared with your team or uploaded to your CRM. What’s more is with the visual components in TrialFinder you can get more context around these studies. The charts help you immediately answer questions like: How many are there of each phase? What kind of sponsors do they have? Where in the world are these sponsors? Where in the world are the trial sites?
We designed TrialFinder to be used for business development and market research. If you want to learn more, get a demo, or use a free trial (and yes, you can export all the information you want during a free trial), fill out this form to get in contact. If you’re not interested, but do plan on conducting business development manually on clinicaltrials.gov we’d still like to help. If there are any questions about the process I walked through in this blog post let us know in the comments. Happy prospecting!