KGK Science CEO: Pandemic put transition to virtual trials into hyperdrive

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© dusanpetkovic / Getty Images
© dusanpetkovic / Getty Images

Related tags CRO Clinical trials Outsourcing

The pandemic has forced contract research organizations like KGK Science to be more efficient and creative and has put the transition to virtual clinical trials into ‘hyperdrive’, says the CRO’s CEO.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA, Najla Guthrie, President/CEO of Ontario-based KGK Science, says she expects this transition to virtual clinical trials is here to stay. “We won’t be going back to full visits [for participants], unless you’re running a PK [pharmacokinetic] study and then you have multiple blood draws throughout the day. For all others that don’t require time in the clinic, we’re doing all of those virtually.”

“From safety and convenience points of view, it’s much better for the participants. And it’s much more efficient: We can process a lot more participants this way,” ​she added.

The early days of the pandemic were especially challenging for the contract research sector, and KGK Science halted recruitment for new trials for several months at the start of the pandemic.

“We decided to only see the participants that were in existing studies, and we decided to not recruit for new studies until we could see how things were evolving.”

KGK did restart recruitment in June 2020 after establishing a lot of protocols around ensuring the safety of the participants and the staff running the trials.

Guthrie added that the many companies still want to invest in science, and “the business is there in terms of clinical trials coming in the door… I think that’s stronger than ever because of the pandemic.”

Opportunity for growth

As reported earlier this year, KGK Science was acquired by Ketamine One​ (formerly known as Myconic Capital Corp), and this gives the CRO the opportunity to grow, said Guthrie.

“It gives us the opportunity to enter the psychedelic space in a big way and really lead the charge there,” ​she said.

“We’re excited to enter the psychedelic space because I see some great opportunities for some great products in the mental health space, where there hasn’t been much new since the 50s and 60s. There’s a mental health crisis right now, especially after COVID, and I’m excited to lead the way and bring these products to market on a scientific basis.”

While psychedelics will be key expansion area for the CRO moving forward, KGK will still be conducting science and running clinical trials for the dietary supplements marketplace, she said.

“We have become a strong leader and a global player in nutraceutical research. We’ve been around for over 24 years and were really ahead of our time when I spun the company out in 1997, when most of the industry didn’t really understand the need for clinical trials and a lot of the products that were brought to market were based on anecdotal evidence and testimonials,” ​said Guthrie.

“Fast forward to today and I’m proud that our company has had a lot to do with a lot of the products you see on the shelves today, and we will continue to do so. That’s a strong and big part of our business.”

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