Professionals from any type of business understand that keeping up with industry news is a key to success. Intimately knowing the trends and players in your space is going to inform everything from sales and marketing decisions to product development. The obvious way to obtain news is to subscribe to media outlets that focus on your industry. For example, stock brokers subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, while tech startup executives stay glued to TechCrunch. For pharma and clinical trial news I enjoy STAT news .

But scanning news articles and headlines isn’t enough to stay in the know. Stock brokers need to also track stock prices, and tech executives keep an eye on venture capitalist investments. Just the same, those of us who have business that touch on clinical trials need to understand what new drugs and devices are in development. This is the kind of knowledge that will give you a leg up when conducting sales, gathering competitive intelligence, or networking at your next conference.

But with as many as 400 new clinical trials being registered each week by the NIH, getting weekly clinical trial updates isn’t an easy thing to do unless you have a good system. Follow along as I describe three ways to setup a weekly clinical trial updates cadence. You can take any of these methods a step further by creating a list of what updates are relevant to your company, and emailing these out to the team each week.

 

Your Primary Source

The most exhaustive free resource for getting clinical trial updates is ClinicalTrials.gov (CT.g). This registry, created and curated by the NIH, is where info for about 90% of the world’s clinical trials will be uploaded and updated. In 2015 there were 23,548 trials registered on CT.g. As I mentioned before, that’s a rate of 452 per week. In 2016 to date there have been 17,142 new clinical trials submitted on CT.g which is a rate of 489 per week.

 

The Manual Method

The most straightforward way to see what’s been updated on the CT.g database each week is to use the advanced search feature. To do this simply go to ClinicalTrials.gov and click on the “advanced search” button.

Let’s pretend it’s the second week of 2016, and we want to analyze all trials from 1/1/2016 to 1/7/2016. You could do so in the date picker like so:

clinicaltrialupdatesdate

And then your results should look like this:

In this example, there are 447 new studies to review. Reviewing 477 studies all at once is a big task, but there are a few things you can do to extrapolate high level information, or reduce the number of studies to make the list more relevant.

  1. Include only open studies or exclude studies with unknown status
  2. Play with the “display options”
  3. Review the studies by topic
  4. Sort the studies by geographic region by look on the map
clinical trial advanced search

The RSS Method

Another way to get weekly clinical trial updates is to use the RSS feature on CT.g. While this method is less interactive, and doesn’t let you do further filtering of the data, it will keep the information in a more concise format that’s easier to scan. The other benefit is that you can have this CT.g RSS feed in your RSS reader alongside other blogs and publications you subscribe to.

To setup the RSS Method, go to any search results screen in ClinicalTrials.gov. Click on “Subscribe to RSS”. Check “Studies that were added or modified in the last 14 days” and click “Create RSS Feed”. This will take you to this page:

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results/rss.xml?rcv_d=&lup_d=14&rcv_s=01%2F01%2F2016&rcv_e=01%2F07%2F2016&show_flds=Y&show_rss=Y&sel_rss=mod14&count=10000

This is your feed, and it looks like this:

clinical trial rss

This feed is in a language called XML, and is intended to be interpreted by an RSS reader. One such RSS reader I recommend is Feedreader. Setup a free Feedreader account, click “add a new feed”, and enter the URL of the ClinicalTrials.gov feed (the same one as above). Feedreader will display the information like so:

clinical trial feedreader

I prefer the collapsed view, which you can toggle in the top right, because it makes the titles easier to scan. As I mentioned before, one of the benefits here is that you can add RSS feeds from any other blogs or publications you read, so you can use this tool to get clinical trial updates with your daily reading.

If you use Google Chrome I recommend getting the RSS Feed Reader Chrome Extension (made by feeder.co) and checking the feed this way. This extension will notify you as new trials are submitted to the database, one-by-one. It makes consuming information for over 400 new trials each week more manageable by spreading it out as they come in.

The TrialFinder Method

TrialFinder is one of our four analytics solutions designed for quick and visual searching of our database of over 220,000 clinical trials. In TrialFinder is a weekly updated dashboard that delivers you data about all the new clinical trials registered online. While this isn’t a free method of getting clinical trial updates, like the two methods mentioned above, it does have some robust features you can’t get anywhere else:

  • Filter trials by region, phase, recruitment status, or trial site location
  • Review top keywords used in the latest updates
  • Find enrollment, sponsor, and key contact information associated with each trial
  • Drill-down into the CT.g trial record of each study with one click
  • Export all of the data into Excel to share with your team
  • Choose the specific date range for which you want an update

Here’s an example of what that dashboard looks like in action (with the user exporting info to excel):

TrialFinder Recently Submitted

Try TrialFinder free for two weeks when you use the button below to sign up for a demonstration. During your trial you can export the data for any of the trials we have on file, not just new ones.

Review

Above I’ve described three methods you can use to receive weekly clinical trial updates:

  • The Manual Method will take you directly to the source and allows you to further dig into dimensions such as trial status or location
  • The RSS Method makes tracking 400 or more trials throughout the week more manageable by making it an extension of your browser, or putting it in your daily reading tool.
  • TrialFinder offers the same functionality with more robust visualization, filtering, and exporting capabilities.

No matter the method sticking to a weekly cadence of scanning updates will make you a more informed life sciences professional. If you have any questions or comments about the methods I described, please leave them in the comments section. Good luck! 

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