Clinical studies, including vaccine trials, have perhaps not been thrust into people’s field of awareness more than they have in the past 18 months or so, and New Zealand is proving to be an important go-to market for these crucial undertakings.
There’s a “fairly large” demand for clinical trials in the land of the long white cloud, according to Honan Insurance Group’s Daniel Reid (pictured), who leads the life science & biotech department at the Australia-headquartered insurance broker.
In fact, the client manager told Insurance Business that he often gets queries even from Australian clients wanting to conduct studies in New Zealand. So, what’s the pull?
“From what I can see in New Zealand, I think the attraction is the ease and the cost of conducting trials there,” said the Melbourne-based executive. “There’s high-quality research facilities; there’s best of practice in the way clinical trials are conducted; there’s a lot of CROs (contract research organisations) that are conducting trials; there’s universities; and there’s also private clinics that are doing trials in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand.
“And they’ve got a very good reputation. They work really well with some of our overseas [clients] and our Australian clientele as well. They understand that the framework in New Zealand is quite simple. There’s Medsafe, which is the regulator, and New Zealand Health and Disability Ethics Committees. With New Zealand, we’re talking about quite a short timeline for approval of clinical trials.”
Reid noted that approvals in New Zealand normally take four to six weeks.
“I think clients have that faith and trust that when they engage a clinical trials study in New Zealand, that they have a very clear timeline of when the study will attach, and the duration. And that’s really important to clients just to have some reassurance that the approval process is relatively short, and then they can get underway and get the study done.”
Apparently, the same can’t be said about Australia as far as timing goes.
Reid revealed: “It’s a similar framework in that you’ve got the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), which is the regulator, and an ethics committee as well, that will have to provide approval separately for studies in Australia. It is a similar framework, in a way, but the timeline would definitely be a bit more of a moving thing.
“We have had certain delays with clients having trials in Australia but, having said that, we can still get trials fast-tracked. On average, you’d probably be looking at a few more weeks out. For a like-for-like study, you could be looking at a little bit longer lead time for that regulatory approval and ethics approval to be done.”
Meanwhile, the life science & biotech head pointed to the importance of having a subsidiary office in Auckland.
“Honan, as an insurance broker, has been established in New Zealand for a number of years,” he said. “We think it’s a natural fit for us in that we have a lot of clients that are based in Australia and operate in New Zealand as well, and vice versa. So, having a local office for any sort of insurances that require locally admitted paper and any local experience on the ground to set up insurance is, I think, really important, not only for clinical trials and biotech but for insurance in general.
“There are certain niches and areas of expertise that you need to know about New Zealand for the right pricing and the right cover. I think it’s important for clients to understand what they need to do in terms of regulatory compliance and what to look out for in New Zealand, particularly around different insurance requirements and different perils.”
“In terms of clinical trials,” added Reid, “the networks, the trial sites, the CROs, the universities – they’re all very much equipped to run very successful trial programmes. Cost-wise, I think running trials in New Zealand is definitely fairly attractive. And, more importantly, that lead time is quite low in comparison to other countries.”
As for Honan, Reid said the broker is able to turn around a quote and a policy within about a week.
“That process is relatively straightforward,” he told Insurance Business. “The insurers in this region generally can cover and understand that the territories of Australia and New Zealand are pretty much aligned in terms of legal jurisdictions, and most of the clinical trial policies extend to cover both territories automatically.”
No clinical trial, stressed Reid, can proceed without the required certificate and proof of insurance.