In San Antonio, Alan Preston, CEO of Synergyst Research, hopes to reverse that low participation rate by encouraging more physicians to get involved in clinical trials.
"There's lots of reasons why physicians don't participate," Preston
"We're a clinical trial management organization," Preston
"We find trials for physician groups, do the legal documents, negotiate budgets on their behalf, help them prepare for site visits and assist with all other aspects of the study start phase of clinical trials."
Clinical trials are vital in the development of new drugs.
Therefore, participation in clinical trials is a win-win situation for physicians and patients, Preston
San Antonio is ideal for conducting clinical trials because of its renowned Medical Center and the various research projects it conducts, Preston
estimates about 200 clinical trials occur here each year.
The range of therapeutic specialties of which clinical trials are conducted range from the A to Zs, including allergy and asthma, cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, oncology, psychiatry, rheumatology and urology, among others.
Developing one new drug - which can take years from the start of Phase I, II, III and IV clinical trials all the way to getting FDA approval - can be exorbitant, somewhere to the tune of $800 million.
Basically, a pharmaceutical company first has to hire scientists who must understand the effect that the drug will have on animals.
Years can go by before the drug is ready to be tested on humans.
"Then they will often pay doctors $50,000 per trial to $250,000 per trial to conduct these trials," Preston
says, adding that 10 patients per trial must be enrolled.
"It becomes costly to pay physicians, find subjects to enroll in clinical trials, collect data and report that data back to pharmaceutical companies."
Each phase can take as long as a year to complete, he
That insight led Preston
to start his
says, as well as an experience he
had with a physician, who was seeking help in obtaining a clinical trial.
"We fulfilled that need," he
"We realized that if this one provider has this need, then other provider groups might also have this need, so we scaled the company upward.
Now we're in 13 markets in the United States that does clinical trial research."
fortunate that his
job allows him to pursue activities outside the sphere of Synergyst Research
currently is working with members of the community to help the University of the Incarnate Word
establish a master's program in health administration.
It is scheduled to launch in fall 2009.
Daniel Dominguez, UIW founding director, graduate program in health administration, H-E-B School of Business and Administration
, credits Preston
as the impetus for the program's development when he
approached President Lou Agnese in 2007 about the need for such a program in San Antonio.
"As our executive in residence, Alan
has significantly contributed to our efforts by encouraging key members of his
extensive network of healthcare executives to follow his
lead and volunteer their time in service on our Executive Advisory Board.
has leveraged his
exceptional leadership and communication skills to generate excitement and support for the program both within the university and in San Antonio."
The CEO flies to New Orleans once a month to fulfill his position as an adjunct professor at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine where he teaches statistical research strategies to doctoral students.
He also is a guest lecturer at St. Mary's University and Trinity University.
"I get to be surrounded by some of the top-notch people in the country," Preston
says of his
"Some are working in the area of medicine and healthcare and healthcare improvement.