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Industry Case Studies

NRS has developed strategic collaborations with some of the world’s largest clinical trials contract research organisations and pharmaceutical companies

QunitilesIMS Prime

QuintilesIMS is an integrated Healthcare Services provider and the world’s largest contract research organisation (CRO) addressing the outsourced commercial needs of biopharmaceutical customers as well as the needs of the broader healthcare sector for value-based analyses, research studies and evidence-based medicine.

The Prime Site initiative is the pinnacle of the QuintilesIMS site management strategy and develops partnerships of mutual benefit through a synergistic approach to delivering clinical research.

Prime sites are characterised by ‘best in class’ performance, joint governance, wide therapeutic capability and a collaborative approach to clinical trials.

The country-level Prime Site partnership between Quintiles and NRS is unique and aims to maximise the potential of the integrated and collaborative nature of the research landscape across Scotland (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

Figure .1

Evolution of the Scottish Prime Site

In 2008, QuintilesIMS developed partnerships with each of the four large Health Boards in Scotland.

A significant increase in QuintilesIMS studies was accompanied by demonstrable ability to deliver on trails in key therapy areas. In 2012, an agreement was reached between NRS and QuintilesIMS to develop Scotland as a Prime Site.

The Scottish Prime Site

A key feature of the Prime Site partnership is joint governance. This is achieved in Scotland by three key interactions:

  • Strategic direction: Joint Executive Committee
  • Operational delivery: Joint Operational Committee
  • The NRS Industry Liaison Manager and Prime Site Manager work in close partnership to manage clinical trial delivery, drive process improvements within both organisations and deliver the key strategic imperatives of the strategy plan

A jointly agreed ‘Prime Site Strategy Plan’ closely aligned with the CSO Research Strategy, ensures delivery of mutually agreed objectives.

The Scottish Prime Site: key achievements

Through a best-in-class response to feasibility (Fig. 2a), there has been a year on year increase in both the number of QuintilesIMS studies placed across NRS (Figure 2b) and numbers of patients enrolled in QuintilesIMS studies (Fig. 2c).

Fig. 2a – response rates in excess of 95% ensure that NRS are actively working with QuintilesIMS to select studies appropriate to Scotland

Fig. 2b – year on year increase in the number of QuintilesIMS study sites

Fig. 2c – year-on-year increase in the number of patients enrolled to QuintilesIMS studies3

Alignment of the process has resulted in sustained improvements in start-up and contract cycle times (Fig. 3a) with the NRS contract cycle time now best in class (Fig. 3b).

Fig. 4a – contract cycle time: 59% reduction median contract cycle time (median contract cycle time is defined as the number of days between the first draft of a contract being submitted to the site and the date of full execution)

Fig. 4b – ‘best in class’ cycle times: NRS are leading the way globally with ‘best in class’ contract cycle times


Consistent achievement on a portfolio of niche protocols has been a springboard to attracting more studies across the development pathway. NRS sites have delivered high-quality ratings across the portfolio in excess of 95%.


The NRS Prime Site has increased opportunities for patients in Scotland to Participate in clinical studies. This close collaboration has resulted in more efficient processes and marked efficiency gains in terms of study start-up, patient recruitment and the quality of clinical research.

The Quintiles/NRS partnership evidences the benefits of aligning processes and collaborative working in developing the research environment.

Data included in this case study was provided by Quintiles and was reported in the December 2015 Prime Site Monthly Report.