Oncology IITs – Pair with Research Organizations for Success

In high-pressure therapeutic areas such as oncology, a new model for investigator initiated trials (IITs) is becoming more popular among pharmaceutical companies. Rather than going through an in-house medical grants process to fund IITs, some companies are joining with disease awareness groups and research organizations to fund doctors’ studies.


By Jacob Presson,
Research Analyst

IITs are an important part of many companies’ post-approval trial processes.  They provide a valuable outlet for KOLs or other physicians prescribing a product to explore its properties and possibly assist in further regulatory submissions for additional indications or therapies.  The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently announced new partners in its push to drive cancer-related research across the US. According to the press release, more than $40 million in grants have been given to the NCCN and then distributed to investigators for IITs. Going through disease-focused groups like the NCCN have several advantages for medical affairs groups.

To begin with, established disease awareness groups carry credibility with both patients and physicians that, in turn, increases the research’s credibility.  Ideally, an IIT’s positive results will change doctors’ prescription practices.  But added credibility also allows the investigator to conduct the research more quickly with a larger network of established CROs to recruit patients for the trial.

Furthermore, the role of awareness groups like the NCCN in determining which trials get funded can save pharmaceutical companies time and money. Disease specialists are more likely to understand which trials have a greater chance of success.  The funding model allows a single large grant to be given to the organization without having to worry about specific trial applications.

Overall, the partnership with disease-specific research organizations gives many advantages to medical affairs groups looking to diversify their medical grants and IIT processes.  As Cutting Edge Information’s report on IITs discusses, the top two factors in a successful trial are thought leader relationships and demonstrating corporate philanthropy.  Partnering with groups like the NCCN checks both these boxes and improves relationships with patients along the way.