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SDTM in Demand

SDTM Mapping – it keeps cropping up when my clients ask our recruitment team for SAS programmers that have done this. We are the eyes and ears for our clients outside of their company.

March 2018

SDTM in Demand

SDTM Mapping – it keeps cropping up when my clients ask our recruitment team for SAS programmers that have done this.  We are the eyes and ears for our clients outside of their company.

 

We’re constantly speaking to the industry and absorbing what we need to know so we can best market the position to potential professionals. It prompted me to do more research on where SDTM programming is at the moment and where will it go.

 

What I have experienced is that Pharma, Biotechs and their partner CRO’s have been constantly on the uphill battle with standardisation using CDISC.

 

Standardizing clinical trial data into a simple format that can be transposed for a number of purposes in the easiest way possible will always be a challenge.

 

The industry is implementing and improving the process.  We are focusing on the present whilst looking at past trials to see if there are other applications for products that didn’t make the approvals process, or whether there can be variations on existing drugs.

 

Whilst conducting research, I came across a paper about “SDTM Cartography” from PharmaSUG 2017 written by Data Consultants Donna Sattler and Michael Lozano, and I immediately thought that the language used romanticised the idea of SDTM programming.

 

There are programmers in the industry I know who don’t have that romanticism about SDTM’s, but when I read this paper it gave me a new understanding of why the demand is there.

 

In layman’s terms – SDTM Mapping is the “map” that will help anyone that works with the data to “know where it came from and where it will eventually belong”. The applications for this type of modelling have far reaching implications – whether it's current clinical trials, trials that have already been released into the market / under observation, or trials that have already been done.

 

The paper breaks SDTM Mapping down simply for a recruiter to know this, it just helps us relate and sell opportunities to prospective candidates but also to understand what hiring managers in programming want when they say “I need an SDTM Programmer”.

 

We can understand why the need is there and how it works so they know where they fit. It also helps us relate to the managers we hire for.

 

So we can go through the woes of finding someone and what the consequences are if we don’t find someone (i.e. delays to the drug application and submission, penalties and fines for delays).

 

What does this demand really mean for everyone in the clinical trials process? It is yet another niche that managers need in their projects. From a CRO perspective there will be pressure from their clients who ask “Can you do SDTM Mapping” or “SDTM Conversions” because of how tidy and effective this reporting and data modelling process is. 

 

 

There are programmers in the industry I know who don’t have that romanticism about SDTM’s, but when I read this paper it gave me a new understanding of why the demand is there.

 

The reality is that there is a smaller finite number of people than we thought with this experience moving from company to company.  All these companies are in competition with each other to keep the same individuals.

 

I have spoken with talent acquisition professionals and hiring managers from across the industry who work for Sponsors, Vendors, or freelancers between these – they all feel that there are not enough people who do this type of work. Regardless of whether you work for a Sponsor or a Vendor company – there is just a lack of talent.

 

There is hope however! SDTM has many facets where individuals across Data Management and Programming have the base skill and understanding needed to translate into SDTM creation, mapping and conversion.

 

There is an emergence of professionals across the world making that transition. The important thing is now to cultivate the future talent that will adopt this standard as their norm and keep the process going.

 

What are your thoughts? Let us know!