How Do CROs Feel About Benchmark Pricing Models?

In August 2019 Clinical Leader Live was proud to feature Bari Kowal, Jonathan Cohen, and Reb Tayyabkhan of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to discuss Developing a Benchmark Pricing Model for CROs. During the presentation, the team covered several topics, including implementing the model, the effects of company size, and why the sudden interest in these models. In this video, the three executives discuss how CROs feel about benchmark pricing models.

Click here to see the complete interview.


Ed Miseta: This question just popped up from one of our listeners. What feedback have you received from CROs about this pricing model? Do you have any insights on how you think CROs feel about this model? Are they generally receptive to it? Do they seem to be resistant or suspicious of it in some way?

Bari Kowal: I think they're generally receptive, because this is the nature of the beast and we are moving in a direction where we do want to align on appropriate costing and it can save time on both sides. I think it is additional work and does put some parameters that are in place that weren't in place before that can be challenging for the CRO. But I do think it's something that our partners have been amenable to. Reb, do you have any comments? I know you've been having specific conversations of late with the CROs on that.

Reb Tayyabkhan: There's a term in negotiations called identifying a zone of mutual agreement and, at the end of the day, by doing the benchmarking, you take the conversation from a subjective conversation to an objective conversation. You have data that actually drives a discussion and, we, as a sponsor, want to make sure we’re paying for the right services and the CRO wants to make sure that they're not losing money.

So, when we have benchmarks and data that help drive the discussion, it's a better outcome for everyone. How do I think the CROs feel about it? I think they're receptive to it and we've been very transparent with our partners. That's what we're doing and we haven't heard any complaints.

Ed Miseta: One final question. Someone asked about benchmarking oncology studies versus others. Is there a difference there or anything that folks need to be aware of?

Jonathan Cohen: There is a difference but there are also aspects that there wouldn't be a difference. I know that doesn't fully answer the question yet, but I'll get into it. There are certain activities that are going to be required, regardless of the type of study.

Some of those are based not necessarily on whether or not it's an oncology trial or rare disease or whatever it may be, but actually on other types of specifications, like the number of CRF pages and then how long does it take for a monitor to review at a site is going to be just as much related to that. There are certain things I would say can be universal and then there are other areas where we do like to look at particular therapy areas and look to benchmark within that therapy area.

We do have a number of rare disease studies. Those are a little bit more challenging because each one is unique in its own way and becomes a little bit more challenging to compare across. But when you think about a broader oncology portfolio, I'll give you an example of something that we would tend to focus on, which would be an, in many instances, you have sites that only have a handful of patients and it may be hard to recruit and study or it may unfortunately be a in a patient population that's in late phase cancer and therefore you have people that don't finish through their trial.

What we would want to look at is, is what does site management look like within that study? How many sites are the CRO assuming are either going to be non-recruiting sites or sites that close early as a result of patients leaving this study earlier than hoped? That would be something that would be a little bit more unique or specific to an oncology study.

We really do focus on it quite a bit, because we do find that, unfortunately, in many instances, the way in which the work is quoted is a straight line and that's not the reality, of course, with studies like that. So, we do tend to look at things a little bit differently for oncology and other studies.