The Clinical Trial Environmental Impact project wishes to develop a dynamic model that compares the carbon footprint of a clinical trial in traditional, hybrid and fully decentralised settings.

Why is this important?

There is growing pressure from patients, healthcare payers, and governments to reduce the environmental impact of life sciences. In the future, we expect new legislation that will require pharmaceutical and contract research organizations to measure and report on the environmental impact of their operations.  


The Pistoia Alliance believes that an immediate opportunity is the assessment of the impact that clinical trials have on the environment.  Evaluation of the carbon footprint of clinical trials is rarely evaluated despite it being very visible.  More pharmaceutical companies are moving towards the model of Decentralized Clinical Trials (DCT) and currently, it is not known if this new approach will have a greater or lesser impact on carbon footprint.  A robust and accurate methodology for assessment is needed and will require collaboration amongst a broad mix of experts from both the life sciences and sustainability fields.

What will the project achieve?

We propose to lead a coalition of experts to build a dynamic model that:

  1. Identifies the key drivers for carbon footprint in a clinical trial and develop metrics for each with estimates of each for a ‘typical’ clinical trial
  2. Users of the model will have the ability to turn on and off key parameters such as patient engagement, DCT, and patient diversity activities in order to see the impact of each on carbon footprint.

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