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The company saw its projects increase by 158% and its revenue grow 66% from 2019 to 2020
When it comes to conducting clinical trials for medical research, one of the biggest obstacles is also one of thef most fundamental parts of getting the trial to work: actually matching the right patients with the right trials. In fact, 80% of clinical trials are delayed or closed as a result of there not being enough suitable candidates, and up to 50% of research sites enroll one or no patients.
There a number of reasons that this is the case, one of the biggest being is that there is a lot of information about trials available, but it is scientific, disorganized, and fragmented, said Laurent Schockmel, CEO of clinical trial patient recruitment company Antidote.
"Not only does this make the information inaccessible to patients, but it also makes matching patients to trials very difficult. For example, clinicaltrials.gov entries are written in free text, which means that comparing trials to each other to find the best match is nearly impossible."
There's also the problem that researchers don’t have the insights they need to design patient-centric trials; that means that studies are designed with eligibility criteria that don’t reflect the real-world population, or with protocols that simply won’t work for patients in real life. Not to mention the hesitancy on the part of the patients due to myths and misconceptions that surround clinical trials.
Antidote's solution to all of these problem is its free clinical trial search engine, called Antidote Match, which serves both sides of the clinical trial marketplace: patients and the projects looking for participants.
"Our technology harmonizes this chaos into a single, comprehensive, and well-structured database, so that patients can access the right information, and researchers can ultimately design better trials. We’re proud to be offering a real solution to a very complicated problem," said Schockmel.
The company's mission has resonated with investors, as it announced on Thursday that it raised a $23.2 million in funding in round led by private equity firm LBO France. Along with the investments, it was also revealed that LBO France Investment Director Sebastien Woynar, and Managing Director Franck Noiret have joined the Antidote's Board as a director and an observer, respectively.
"As an MD who has run clinical trials in a previous life, Sebastien understands the challenges of patient recruitment. He therefore knows our business very well. Franck is an experienced investor and has served on the board of numerous startups at various stages of growth, including a number of companies in our field that could be strategic partners or clients," Schockmel said.
"LBO France has been a pioneer European investor in betting on digital companies since they launched their first dedicated digital fund in 2015. They are now investing with their second digital fund and will help not only with an independent strategic view of our market but also with invaluable commercial or partnership introductions."
When a patient searches on Antidote Match, the company uses that information to create a database of patients and health information, which serves as the foundation for the company to work on specific recruitment projects for its clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech and CRO spaces.
For example, a pharmaceutical company conducting a COPD study might be having difficulty reaching patients who met very specific eligibility criteria, so Antidote might implement am outreach plan in conjunction with lab partners by using custom data models on social media platforms, while also working with trusted advocacy partners to reach the right patients.
"Our patient liaison management team would then work with the patients to pull their electronic health records to further verify eligibility before sending the patient to a site," said Schockmel.
There are currently hundreds of thousands of patients in Antidote's database, and the company supports clinical trial recruitment initiatives for seven of the top 10 largest global pharmaceutical companies; some pharmaceutical companies have also licensed and white-labeled Antidote's technology to power their websites with its Match search tool.
Antidote's goal is not only help its clients find participants, though, but to ultimately help them lower the time it takes and the money that has to be spent; not being able to find participants for clinical trials can cost sponsors between $600,000 and $8 million every day.
In one instance, a trial that was being conducted by a large pharmaceutical company, which was looking to reach patients in the US with a rare condition, contacted Antidote more than halfway through their recruitment. The company was able to work with advocacy groups and data companies to reach the right patients and deliver 60% of that trial’s randomizations in the US.
In another example, Antidote worked on a severe asthma trial with difficult eligibility criteria. Using its prescreener, targeted digital marketing plan, and its partnership network, the company was able to save its client six months of recruitment time.
Antidote saw massive growth in 2020, with the number of projects increasing by 158% and its revenue increasing by 66%. Schockmel attributes this to COVID driving clinical trial awareness, which resulted in the company seeing more than 7x the number of people visiting its website in 2020 over 2019.
"When COVID hit, it took a matter of weeks before many of our projects were paused due to safety and capacity concerns at the sites and trepidation among patients in general. We pivoted immediately and suggested to our clients that we build pre-recruitment registries now to engage patients later. And we were successful in this approach," he told me.
"We also took on several large COVID trials which were quite unlike our typical projects, due to the speed at which they came down and the large number of patients needed for the studies."
On the back of that growth, Antidote plans to use this new funding to enhance its clinical trial search engine, while also expanding its international footprint, all while launching new products and services, including data insights, as well as a new service that leverages its core capabilities but is focused on engaging patients for approved treatments and medications.
"We’re currently focused on the pharma and biotech markets. A natural market extension from the pharmaceutical industry is medical devices. We also think that health insurers and payers could benefit from offering their members access to clinical trials when standard of care options are not effective," said Schockmel.
"We also plan to drive revenue through the monetization of our database in context of use cases like feasibility studies or protocol design, for example."
The company is also using the trend toward decentralized clinical trials, which can be done remotely, to put more importance behind diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical research, something that is also gaining ground, he told me, particularly with the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities of color.
"This is key as populations involved in medical research must mirror real-world populations in order for treatments to work for those who need them. Antidote is amplifying this important message in our content and through our partnerships."
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