Harry's guest this week is Rohit Nambisan, CEO of Lokavant, a company that helps drug developers get a better picture of how their clinical trials are progressing. He explains the need for the company's services with an interesting analogy: these days, Nambisan points out, you can use an app like GrubHub to order a pizza for $20 or $25, and the app will give you a real-time, minute by minute accounting of where the pizza is and when it’s going to arrive at your door. But f you’re a pharmaceutical company running a clinical trial for a new drug, you can spend anywhere from $3 million to $300 million—and still have absolutely no idea when the trial will finish or whether your drug will turn out to be effective. Because there's little infrastructure for analyzing clinical trial data in midstream or spotting trouble before it arrives, some studies continue long after they should have been canceled, and positive data sometimes gets thrown out because of minor procedural flaws; in the end, 20 to 30 percent of the money drug makers spend on clinical trials goes down the drain, Nambisan says. Lokavant's platform allows drug makers and clinical research organizations to harmonize the results coming in from study sites, compare it to data from other trials, and discover important signals in the data before it’s too late. For example, a company might discover that it’s not enrolling patients fast enough to complete a trial on schedule, or that the researchers administering the study aren’t following the exact protocols laid out in advance. Such headaches might sound abstract and remote, but poor data management slows down the whole drug development process, which means fewer beneficial new drugs make it to market ever year; that's the ultimate problem Lokavant is trying to fix.
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