This is the final post in a series based on the Complion webinar, The Future of the Clinical Research Industry, as presented by John Neal, CEO of PCRS Network. In that webinar, John explores a variety of factors that are driving the evolution of clinical research. This post looks at another of John Neal’s predictions.
Because sponsors are increasingly seeking efficiencies, and all stakeholders have an interest in minimizing the time required of, and the potential risk to, volunteers who participate in studies, there will be a decrease in the number of single drug studies in the future. 
As John points out in the webinar, “We’ve seen, over the last ten years especially, very large studies in some of the major disease states that have resulted in blockbuster drugs, drugs that have ended up serving a very large number of people.” As these “blockbuster” drugs allow more and more people to effectively control their disease states, or even cure outright the diseases with which these patients are afflicted, the focus of clinical research will shift to rare diseases.
That shift is already occurring, as sponsors band together in collaborative studies. “Drugs that historically wouldn’t have been cost effective to bring to market, to take through the approval process,” now represent a “great opportunity for collaboration between multiple sponsors,” John says.
How will that take collaboration take shape?
“Networks are going to form around some of the different disease states and around the different rare diseases,” John predicts. He cites the aggregation of patients and of interest possible through organizations such as the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. “Some of these will be viewed as networks, others as collaborators, and of course there will be true networks out there as well.”
In thinking about John’s observations and predictions about networks and collaboration, it’s impossible for me to ignore the obvious role technology will play in making it easy for networks to form and for collaboration to flourish. Widely used social media tools and mobile technologies have certainly made greater collaboration possible even across great distances. But advances in eRegulatory and other technologies designed specifically for clinical research make direct collaboration a reality.
 Change is in the Air, Part 2, by John Neal, ACRP Blog, https://acrpblog.org/2016/05/16/change-is-in-the-air-part-ii/
Access the full on-demand webcast, “Predictions: The Future of Clinical Research,” featuring John Neal, CEO of PCRS Network.