Mark Kolb, Patni Life Sciences

Nov 03, 2007
By Pharmaceutical Executive Editors

Mark Kolb
CONSULTANTS MUST POSSESS both domain knowledge and information technology knowledge. It is most important that pharma consultants truly understand the business model and the unique challenges of the industry. The consultant also must be expert in the application and technologies that are generally found in the pharmaceutical industry.

Life science companies must look for revolutionary opportunities. These include new technologies, new business partners, new ways of driving existing functions, and new areas of the world to which products and services can be delivered. The most successful companies are beginning to endorse these revolutionary strategies in a very aggressive manner.


Areas to address right away include:
  • Safety of the products Every day we can read instances of product recalls or concerns about product safety from around the world. Pharmaceutical companies must maintain a constant and vigorous understanding of their product safety profile and that management has the proper information to make informed decisions.
  • Optimization of the clinical studies The multiyear, big-money investment that pharmaceutical companies make in a new product must be more effective and more efficient.
  • Endorsement of initiatives that have proven successful in other industries. Outsourcing of noncritical functions, such as accounting, human resources, and IT services, has been tremendously successful in other industries. The pharmaceutical industry is just now beginning to significantly adopt similar initiatives.


At the top of my list are the opportunities that developing economies present. These growth opportunities come from selling existing and newly developed products and from leveraging skilled research and development talent. Take India, for example: India has a fast-growing labor pool of skilled yet relatively low-cost engineering talent that global life sciences firms can leverage for research and development, information technology, and clinical testing. Further, as India's economic wealth grows, it is also falling victim to a rapid increase in the prevalence of diseases like diabetes. Life sciences firms must plan to look beyond traditional markets to fuel the future of both the R&D pipeline and sales.


Consumer perception of the priorities of the pharmaceutical industry is swayed by the amount of advertising that these firms do, often to market drugs focused on non-life-threatening conditions. Pharmaceutical companies must close the gap between their customers' perception of how much they spend on sales and marketing and their true commitment to developing beneficial new products.

Unfortunately, public opinion of the pharmaceutical industry seems to be at an all-time low. It is important, then, that the industry work to restore public confidence and improve its overall reputation.

Another challenge facing the life sciences industry is how to improve research and development productivity. Life sciences firms today are spending more than ever on research and development, yet they face a weak pipeline of new therapies. They must better leverage technology and find ways to collaborate with health systems and regulatory agencies to more efficiently and effectively develop new products if they are to thrive in the coming years.

Consulting partners will first listen to the client's self-identified issues, know the right questions to ask, and then make recommendations for a future course of action. These recommendations are based on the industry knowledge and technical knowledge they possess. Clients should expect their consulting partner to challenge them to look at their business in new ways and recommend courses of action that the client may not have identified. It's crucial for each organization to benchmark themselves against industry best practices and then to work with their consulting partners to make improvements striving to be more effective and efficient.


Patni Life Sciences provides regulatory compliance and system lifecycle services to address the business, information technology, and regulatory challenges faced by life science companies. Patni Life Sciences is located in Bridgewater, NJ, with a regional operations center in Puerto Rico.

Mark Kolb is senior vice president and head of Patni Life Sciences. He can be reached at

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