Initiative to measure carbon impact of clinical trials

Medical research waste

A working group has been created to measure and compare the carbon footprint of centralised (traditional site-based) and decentralised clinical trials.

The Clinical Trials Environmental Impact Community of Interest (CoI) was started by Pistoia Alliance member, Syneos Health. The group will work closely with another member, the Sustainable Health Coalition (SHC), in support of its work with the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI).

In phase one, the Community of Interest will work to collectively agree the parameters and variables that will be measured. 

The second phase will see it develop a methodology for calculating the carbon footprint of both trial models. This methodology will be published as a publicly available tool to deliver a cross-industry standard for quantifying the carbon impact of a trial. 

The CoI currently has 25 members from Japan, US, and Europe, including top 10 pharma companies, CROs, and academic representatives.

Growing pressure on life sciences

“Syneos Health is committed to delivering on our environmental goals and finding ways to make clinical development activities more sustainable,” said Noolie Gregory, Vice President, Decentralized Solutions for Syneos Health. “The Pistoia Alliance offers us a unique, collaborative space to make this happen.” 

Due to growing pressure to reduce the environmental impact of life sciences, the Pistoia Alliance expects future legislation will require companies to measure and report on the environmental impact of their operations. To prepare for this change, the Alliance believes that companies working together on assessing the impact of trials is a key starting point.

A standard for all stakeholders

“Decentralised trials reduce the burden on the patient and ensure trials are far more patient centric. Whilst quantifying money and time saved is relatively straightforward, accurately measuring the carbon saving requires a more detailed approach to produce a standard that can be used by all stakeholders – from sponsors to CROs to technology vendors,” commented Thierry Escudier, Strategic Leader for Empowering the Patient at Pistoia Alliance. 

“There’s lots of great work being done in the industry, and the Alliance hopes to work alongside these other groups. The scale and complexity of the issue makes it perfectly placed for the Alliance to tackle – it’s multidisciplinary, global, and industry-wide.”

The group are now calling for all those interested – including research organisations, investigators, pharma companies, and patient groups – to get involved.

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