WALTHAM, Mass.—Looking to ask both quantitative and qualitative questions to better understand the current state of clinical development outsourcing and strategic partnerships, PAREXEL International sponsored Booms Research & Consulting Inc.—an independent research firm—to conduct in-depth interviews among senior-level executives, such as C-suite leaders, as well as heads of clinical operations, R&D and strategic outsourcing, representing global biopharmaceutical companies. The sample included 71 percent large pharmaceutical companies, 12 percent mid-sized pharmaceutical companies and 17 percent small biopharmaceutical companies. Participants represent companies which account for 39 percent of industry R&D spending.
PAREXEL itself is a large global biopharmaceutical services organization—14,000 employees in 73 locations throughout 51 countries—which provides “a broad range of knowledge-based contract research, consulting and medical communications services to the worldwide pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries,” the report notes.
So, word to the wise, PAREXEL has skin in the game and company Chairman and CEO Josef H. von Rickenbach clearly states his company’s position in his introductory comments: “Biopharmaceutical companies are under enormous pressure. Current market and economic realities are compelling the industry to reduce fixed costs, improve efficiency and concentrate limited resources on core competencies. The challenge of accelerating pharmaceutical product development while controlling costs creates a difficult balancing act for industry executives.”
“To make clinical development more effective, PAREXEL International formulated a multidisciplinary and systems-oriented approach to outsourced clinical development, bringing efficiencies, scalability and standardization to the process,” he continued. “Today, many biopharmaceutical companies are engaging clinical research organizations (CROs) through this more integrated approach aimed at optimizing performance and improving efficiencies.”
Finally, he noted, “At PAREXEL, we recognize the value of providing biopharmaceutical companies with a strategic partner who can offer the deep expertise, flexibility and efficiencies of a worldwide infrastructure. The Strategic Partnerships 2013 report represents our investment in understanding the value of these long-term, substantial and committed relationships among CROs and sponsors. This report highlights the growing importance to biopharmaceutical companies of engaging in strategic partnerships to drive greater value through seamless integration, aligned goals and mutual investment. Importantly, our new research offers the industry greater clarity on the facets of strategic partnerships that are working today, and how these relationships should evolve tomorrow.”
DDNews spoke with PAREXEL’s Joshua Schultz, corporate vice president of strategic partnerships, and asked him to outline the study’s major take-away points. First, in his view, is the fact that 85 percent of the executives interviewed believe strategic partnerships have had a positive impact on the CRO-sponsor relationship. Between 42 and 50 percent of respondents also said this more integrated approach to clinical development reduces their level of oversight, decreases fixed costs, provides them with access to capabilities not found internally, improves global reach and accelerates time to market.
Schultz points out that with respect to defining strategic partnerships with CROs today, the industry executives overwhelmingly identified the type of oversight and governance required by the sponsor (88 percent) and the level of mutual partnership investment (85 percent) as the two most important attributes. Fewer executives identified the volume of work being outsourced or the overall scope of work outsourced as important attributes of strategic relationships.
“That is an important consideration for smaller and mid-sized companies,” Schultz observes, “who otherwise may feel that strategic partnerships only benefit larger companies.”
“The speed of change has been remarkable over the past five years,” Schultz says, with the economic debacle of 2008, followed by the patent cliff, creating a once-in-a-lifetime situation. “Now, we’re really excited by the next generation of partnerships and the opportunity for cycle-time savings.”