When Sponsors Need a Lifeline, Rescue Contract Reviews Can Get a Clinical Trial Back on Track

Delays can be the death of a clinical trial. Late starts and missed milestones can deteriorate sponsor-site relations and waste both parties’ time, resources, and patience. And when studies get off to a shaky start, it’s all too easy to rush other obligations in a desperate bid to make up time—jeopardizing the study’s success.

Due to a lack of in-house resources or legal expertise, many sponsors find themselves unprepared to strategically negotiate these agreements within the available time frame before a trial’s projected start date. This makes it even more difficult to secure mutually beneficial terms and maintain a positive working relationship with the site.

When it looks like a study is hitting a standstill, agile legal vendors like Contracts Associates can swoop in to save the day. “Sometimes after entering into an agreement with a CRO, a sponsor finds that they’ve under-resourced. They don’t have the legal support they need. That’s where we step in,” says Contracts Associates President and Founder, Colleen Sproul. “We’ve performed fast and reliable “rescue contracts reviews” for countless sponsors over the years, helping to support our clients in meeting their milestones.”

Here are some areas where sponsors commonly run into trouble, and where a rescue reviewer can help get you out of the weeds and on track to meet your milestones.

Approaching contract reviews without experienced negotiators on your team

Negotiating contract terms is always a balancing act. You have a budget and timelines to consider, and intellectual property and a reputation to protect. And if your site is a major research institution, it’s more than likely that their vast and experienced legal team is combing over every clause with an eagle eye.

Unfortunately, some sponsors lack the in-house legal knowledge to negotiate equitable contract terms and handle reviews with the necessary efficiency. And without a thorough and strategic approach to contract reviews, all manner of unfavorable terms can slip through the cracks. You may find yourself taking on unnecessary responsibilities and shouldering a troubling level of risk. And if you don’t pay close attention to the agreement, the investigator may be entitled to publish data long before you’re ready to see it go public.

The idea that any agreement is better than no agreement is a damaging one. If you find your company struggling to finalize a favorable clinical trial agreement with target deadlines looming, take a step back before signing and harness experienced outside help.

An outsourced legal vendor with experience in rescuing contract reviews can enter the review process to expedite negotiations, smooth out seemingly inflexible terms, and help find a mutually-beneficial middle ground—so you don’t have to settle for the simplest compromise.

Rushing into an agreement because the in-house legal team is overwhelmed

Even sponsors with in-house legal teams can run into these delays. In the buildup to a clinical trial, the rush to meet milestones can quickly cause in-house counsel to get stretched too thin—leading to a backlog of contracts waiting for review. This opens the door to mistakes and missed opportunities, slowing the process down significantly.

The time and expense it takes to hire and onboard another full-time attorney would only exacerbate the delay. This can leave sponsors stuck between a rock and a hard place, unable to expand their team but incapable of meeting their milestones with the resources they have.

Outsourced legal solutions can solve this problem, offering rescue contract reviews on an as-needed basis. Your in-house counsel is supported by an entire team of lawyers who share their industry knowledge and don’t require explanations before getting to work. This allows you to ensure that every term is meticulously crafted and any loopholes effectively tied up—before you make them legally binding.

Rescuing contract reviews, supporting sponsors at every step

At Contracts Associates, our firm was founded to steer sponsors toward success—and our rescue contract review services have helped many of our clients get there against the odds.

All our lawyers match deep contract review knowledge with extensive in-house experience and established relationships with prominent research institutions. This allows us to enter the contract review process at any stage without wasting time getting up to speed or aggravating strained relationships between sponsors and sites.

And since our attorneys work remotely, we’re able to work flexibly and work fast—so you can meet your milestones and avoid endless (and costly) delays.

Of course, no sponsor sets out thinking they’ll need rescue services. Prepare for any eventuality and ensure your success by having a solid contract review plan in place from the very beginning. We can help. From crafting meticulous contracts to creating a customized library of agreements for your company, we can support you from the outset—so you can enter the clinical trial phase with confidence.

Ready to expedite your contract review process? Contact us today.

As of the date of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, active substances manufactured in the UK will be considered “imported” active substances and other headaches

The European Medicines Agency issued a Q&A to address some Brexit issues that will directly impact US sponsors/manufacturers.

The EMA offers no specific guidance on the transfer and/or handling of clinical trials that are ongoing on the date that the UK leaves the EU, but the guidance does give us an idea of how complicated this is all going to be. Nota bene the issue caused by having one’s Qualified Person in the UK (which is 98% of US manufacturers, followed only by QPs in Ireland). We will continue to follow the EU’s guidance and will craft our EU contracts in such as way as to make the transfer as painless as possible.

OIG Issues 2016 Final Rule Expanding Anti-Kickback Statute Safe Harbors; Excludes Pharmaceutical Manufacturers From Most Of Them

Our read of 81 Fed. Reg. 88368 (December 7, 2016), issued by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), does not appear to affect pharmaceutical manufacturers in any substantive way; our obligations are unchanged and no additional “safe harbors” are afforded.

The OIG did make a technical correction to the safe harbor for referral services, which we believe requires an update to the “anti-kickback and fair market value” clauses in our clients’ templates. We’ll be using the italicized text below, from this point on:

Vendor represents and warrants that neither Vendor nor any individual or entity acting on Vendor’s behalf, nor any payee under this Agreement, will, directly or indirectly, offer, pay or accept, or authorize the offering, payment, or acceptance of, any money or anything of value to or from any third party, with the knowledge or intent that the payment, promise or gift, in whole or in part, will be made in order to improperly influence an act or decision that will assist Vendor, the Sponsor or the third party in securing an improper advantage or in improperly obtaining or retaining business or in improperly directing business to any person or entity.

Further, the parties acknowledge and agree that the amounts payable by Sponsor or Sponsor’s designee under this Agreement represent the fair market value of the covered costs associated with the Services and no part of any consideration paid hereunder is a prohibited payment for the recommending or arranging for the referral of business otherwise generated by either party for the other party or the ordering of items or services; nor are the payments intended to induce illegal referrals of business.