Our reflections from SCOPE 2022

Celebrating its 13th year, SCOPE Summit took place from February 7-10, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. This year’s summit was hybrid, but with many making the journey to the in-person event, it was a great opportunity to see familiar faces away from the veil of our screens and devices. The work that the clinical research community does is in a state of transition that has been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires collaboration and innovation now more than ever. 

Antidote’s Nathaniel Celentano, Director of Business Development, and Adrianna Kruyt, Associate Director of Business Development, attended SCOPE and shared a few key reflections. 

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and decentralization strategies are still top of mind

COVID-19 and its many variants continue to take the clinical research industry by storm. Throughout 2020, 2021 (and into 2022), companies have rapidly shifted toward decentralized trial models. Many speakers and panels at SCOPE 2022 focused on how companies are adapting

We saw a lot of talk about optimizing access to clinical trials through decentralized initiatives, which is both helpful in making trials more equitable and also ensuring safety during the ebbs and flows of a pandemic. Attendees spoke about identifying and removing barriers to clinical trial participation, with a specific focus on socioeconomic barriers, such as reimbursement, travel logistics, and minimizing aggressive scheduling burdens. With decentralized studies, clinical trial recruitment companies and sponsors can also cast a much wider net to speed up the enrollment process.

One of the biggest themes of the conference this year was an extension of last year’s crucial discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion in study populations. Congress is taking note, too. Legislators recently introduced the Diverse and Equitable Participation in Clinical Trials (DEPICT) Act, aimed at boosting diversity in clinical trials by requiring enhanced data reporting on clinical trial demographics and providing resources to improve access to clinical trials.

Various conference attendees spoke on the importance of enrolling minority patients in clinical trials. While there does tend to be some mistrust of medicine and physicians amongst minority communities, the reality is that enrollment challenges can be more closely correlated with not being asked to be included in clinical trials (and the whole process) in the first place. One of the best ways to gather meaningful recruitment insights is by collecting patients’ voices early in the process. This is a sentiment we heard in a few panels that echoes what patient advocacy groups and individual patient advocates have told us for years: involve a diverse range of patients in the entire clinical trial process early. Sponsors are soliciting input from patient advisory councils to ensure messaging is clear. Keeping patients and participants at the heart of trials is a necessity.

In a panel about building patient-facing materials across various study designs, speakers discussed how to achieve a unified path forward. An approach like this represents credibility (recognition), competitive differentiation, consistency, operational efficiency, and stakeholder trust. The creation of patient-facing materials should incorporate study sponsor(s), participants and caregivers, researchers, and health care providers. Ensuring every study reflects the patient voice builds validity and credibility.

Patient-centricity remains the core of the clinical research industry. The issue of diversity and clinical trial participation adds an important layer, while COVID-19 has amplified this. Better treatments and potential cures will continue to be elusive for some segments of the population if trial populations don’t reflect the real world.