Filling in the Bigger Picture

Jun 01, 2011
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

The Avoca Group's latest data on the outsourcing relationship between biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs) shows that both sponsors and providers report significantly higher satisfaction with their clinical outsourcing relationships—the highest since 2006. These findings, first reported in Pharm Exec's March issue, are welcome news—but they led us to probe for a closer look beyond the numbers. What explains the uptick in satisfaction after years of increasing dissatisfaction? Are the numbers likely to be sustained in the future? What practical information can biopharmaceutical executives take away in managing the relationship with CROs?

Getty Images / Terry Kruse
To help fill in the details behind the new data, The Avoca Group conducted telephone interviews with sponsor company executives. Although the interviews do not represent a scientific sampling of the survey participants, their responses support the new data on increased satisfaction with outsourcing relationships. The executives interviewed for this article represent Top 20 and medium-sized biopharmaceutical companies. They had much to say about what makes an exceptional sponsor/CRO relationship—as well as what doesn't—and offered ideas about what changes were being made at their companies to elicit that high-level relationship now and in the future.

What's Behind the Satisfaction Turnaround?

With biopharmaceutical companies' satisfaction at a low ebb in 2009, it was no surprise that most survey respondents reported that their companies were planning on making internal changes to improve their outsourcing relationships. The planned changes centered on the following areas:

» Focusing on fewer, more strategic outsourcing relationships;

» Increasing investment in more formal approaches (metrics) to evaluate and manage these relationships; and

»Improving information-sharing internally and externally.

Our interviews confirmed that these changes were indeed undertaken over the last 12 to 18 months, and most of the executives we interviewed credit these changes with the improved satisfaction with outsourcing relationships reported in 2011.

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