Gaurav Bhatnagar on the Future of Clinical Trials

Gaurav Bhatnagar joined Lexitas Pharma Services as Sr. Vice President of Strategy recently. We sat down with him to learn more about key issues in the industry and his plans for Lexitas. 

Welcome Gaurav! Can you provide a brief introduction and highlight some key points from your career?

Certainly! With over 20 years of experience in global clinical research, my focus has been primarily on driving strategic transformation and operational excellence in CROs and biopharma companies. At companies such as Exelixis, PPD and Quintiles, I’ve had the opportunity to work on various projects that involved shaping the strategic roadmap, executing mergers and acquisitions, leading global expansions, and spearheading large strategic initiatives.

Please tells us more about your role as SVP of Strategy here at Lexitas.

My responsibility is to establish the company’s strategic roadmap. This involves leading market evaluations, assessing and executing merger and acquisition opportunities, and overseeing the company’s global expansion and strategic investments. I’ll be driving key initiatives that help Lexitas become the number one product development partner in Ophthalmology.

How have you seen clinical trials evolve over the past few years, and where do you think they are headed?

Clinical trials have experienced significant evolution in recent years. Three key drivers have played a crucial role in this evolution. Firstly, there has been scientific advancement with the emergence of adaptive trials, platform trials, and basket trials, which have improved the speed, cost-effectiveness, and data quality of clinical trials. Secondly, the use of data and technology has enabled more digital approaches and risk-based methodologies, facilitating the identification of suitable sites and patients. Lastly, there has been a focus on patient-centricity, allowing patients to have a voice in designing and implementing trials.

Looking ahead, I believe the industry will begin to leverage AI to further innovate and enhance the drug development process.

What made you choose Lexitas as your next endeavor?

I was drawn to Lexitas because it is an emerging leader in the field of Ophthalmology. The company operates in a high-growth environment with critical unmet medical needs. Additionally, I was truly impressed by CEO George Magrath’s vision and personality, which aligns well with my own aspirations and goals.

What is your vision for Lexitas?

My vision for Lexitas is to support its growth and development to become the number one product development partner in Ophthalmology. It’s a tall task, but I think we can achieve it because of our laser-sharp focus and the trust we’ve built with customers already. By leveraging our expertise and resources, we can make a significant impact on improving patient outcomes and addressing unmet medical needs in this field.

What are some of the key challenges you see in clinical trials, and how do you think they can be addressed?

One of the major challenges in clinical trials is accelerating the drug development process. We need to find ways to reduce the time and cost involved while maintaining high quality. Leveraging technology and data can play a crucial role in increasing patient access and streamlining the recruitment of investigators and sites. The status quo in clinical trials is, frankly, not that great. We have to figure out a way to overcome these challenges and make clinical trials more efficient and effective. I think technology & AI will be key enablers.

Could you provide some practical advice for sponsors when looking to work with a CRO?

Absolutely. When selecting a product development partner, it is essential for sponsors to consider the CRO’s therapeutic area expertise. In the increasingly complex field of ophthalmic drug development, partnering with a CRO that possesses a deep understanding of the therapeutic area can greatly enhance the chances of success. Additionally, it is important to foster a partnership that is collaborative rather than transactional. Over the years of working in the clinical trials space, I’ve seen first-hand how strong relationships based on trust and open communication are key to achieving shared goals.

And what do you enjoy to do on a personal level?

I have always been passionate about traveling. Exploring new destinations and immersing myself in different cultures is a source of immense joy and enrichment. The excitement of discovering unfamiliar landscapes, trying local cuisines, and connecting with people from diverse backgrounds fuels my wanderlust. I have had the opportunity to live in different countries and visit more than 40 countries.

I also enjoy playing sports such as tennis, badminton, and cricket. It allows me to challenge myself, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.