Full speed ahead

Microsoft, PAREXEL partner to develop cloud-based solutions to accelerate drug development

Kelsey Kaustinen
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REDMOND, Wash. & BOSTON—PAREXEL International Corp. is bringing out the big guns in its latest partnership, having announced a technology development alliance with Microsoft Corp. in the fourth quarter of the year. Though no financial details were disclosed, the alliance will consist of moving PAREXEL Informatics technology and services onto Microsoft Azure to make it the preferred secure cloud platform for PAREXEL’s offerings. Microsoft Azure is an open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform. PAREXEL Informatics’s offerings consist of technology solutions to streamline patient engagement, clinical and regulatory processes by improving the conduct of clinical trials and providing better options for collating and sharing the data that results.
“There is a recognition across the industry that drug development processes need to become more efficient in order to reduce timelines and cost. The partnership between PAREXEL and Microsoft represents the first enterprise-wide cloud implementation within the life-sciences industry,” says Xavier Flinois, president of PAREXEL Informatics. “While there are several cloud solutions for individual offerings available in the industry, this partnership is the most comprehensive, providing end-to-end cloud capabilities backed by Microsoft’s extensive research and development team. Also, Azure provides a vast, secure infrastructure and is compliant with regulatory bodies across the globe to meet the needs of our global clients. We believe that with Microsoft’s cloud-computing capabilities and PAREXEL’s industry expertise we will bring a next-generation cloud solution to the life-sciences industry.”
Flinois tells DDNews that the alliance is “a first-of-its-kind, long-term collaboration for PAREXEL and Microsoft that came about as both companies recognized the need for efficiency and innovation in the drug development process, and that the life-sciences industry needed to digitally transform in order to meet this need.” According to Flinois, the companies will work together in multiple areas, including research and development, engineering and client management.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with PAREXEL to unlock the opportunities of digital transformation for the life-sciences industry,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. “By combining the global scale and intelligent capabilities of Microsoft Azure with PAREXEL’s biopharmaceutical expertise, together we will help life-science companies to accelerate the drug-development and commercialization process, all built on a foundation of trust, security and compliance with the Microsoft Cloud.”
The main thrust of this partnership is to help accelerate the drug development process, speeding therapies to patients. In addition to combining their technological expertise, Microsoft and PAREXEL will also develop patient-centric technologies and cloud-based services in support of clinical efforts. In particular, the companies will set their sights on solutions to improve patient engagement and improve clinical trial accessibility, with additional interest in precision medicine.
“Today, the drug development process is becoming more complex. According to PhRMA, the average time it takes to develop a drug is 10 to 15 years, and the average cost is $2.6 billion. As a result, there is a shift toward digital transformation to increase speed and efficiency,” says Flinois. “Under this collaboration, PAREXEL and Microsoft will jointly develop innovative, patient-centric technologies and cloud-based services to support clinical research and market access for global life-sciences clients. By leveraging the cloud, study workflow will improve and the use of analytics will be optimized, providing real value to sponsors.”
“Technology is disrupting the established model of research and development in healthcare,” he added. “Drug development is becoming more complex, while innovations including social media, analytics, mobile technology and the Internet of Things are enabling a more patient-centric approach. In combination, Microsoft’s leading innovations and commitment to security and regulatory compliance, along with PAREXEL’s industry expertise, will allow us to bring accelerated drug delivery timelines and improved patient engagement to the industry.”
This partnership came roughly a month after PAREXEL announced that Pamplona Capital Management LLP had completed its acquisition of PAREXEL International Corporation, purchasing all outstanding PAREXEL shares at $88.10 per share in cash. The deal was approved by the shareholders on Sept. 15 and closed on Sept. 29. Following the completion of the deal Josef von Rickenbach will maintain his position as CEO, and Dr. Jeremy Gelber, a partner of Pamplona, will join PAREXEL’s board of directors.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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