Centerwatch turns to advertorial for clinical trial recruitment

ARLINGTON, VA: Two online news sites are addressing one of the most challenging steps in drug development by launching an advertorial section dedicated to recruiting patients into clinical trials.

ARLINGTON, VA: Two online news sites are addressing one of the most challenging steps in drug development by launching an advertorial section dedicated to recruiting patients into clinical trials.

CenterWatch, a Boston-based clinical-trials listing service and a division of the Thomson Corporation, has partnered with Washingtonpost.com and Newsweek.com to launch a clinical trials database.

In addition to paid listings advertising open clinical trials, the database, which will be accessible from the news sites' health pages, will answer common patient questions.

CenterWatch and the National Institutes of Health will provide the editorial content, according to Don Marshall, a consultant to Washingtonpost.com and former director of communications there.

CenterWatch had previously partnered with other online health sites such as WebMD, but the broad reach of the news sites was "very enticing," said Dan McDonald, VP of CenterWatch.

Clinical-trial recruitment is an ongoing challenge for pharma clients, and increases the time and cost of bringing drugs to the market, according to Donna Henry Wright, VP of PR and partnerships for the Matthews Media Group, which runs a recruitment practice.

"A lot of clinical trial recruitment information has been placed on the web," Wright said. "At this stage, we're looking for multiple outlets for our clients to place [listings]." She said she would consider using the service.

But Nancy Bacher Long, president of Dorland Global Health Communications, said that advertorials are "passive" outreach. "The client's knee-jerk perspective is to do advertising. PR is so much more cost-effective."

Dorland provides support around clinical-trials recruitment and Long acknowledged the difficulty in recruiting patients.

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