The message is clear: Pharma needs true innovation to get its pipelines flowing. But if the industry is serious about pursuing
new science, then it should devote more resources to searching for it.
Pharma scientists and engineers in charge of clinical research and testing don't have much time to spare, but they are still
often pulled into mundane and routine operations. Scientists, for example, spend an enormous amount of time on stability testing.
This strains already limited internal resources and leaves them unavailable for more strategic and critical functions, such
as formulation and product development.
Most companies look to contract research organizations (CROs) for help with this problem. In 2006, CROs brought in $7.44 billion,
according to Frost & Sullivan, and that market is projected to grow to $20 billion by 2013. Yet the growing specialization
of science, the need to optimize R&D spend, and a changing regulatory landscape that demands more studies quicker means that,
for pharma, the traditional outsourcing approach won't always work.
Increasingly, some companies are forgoing the question of whether or not to outsource. Instead, R&D execs are looking at another
model, where—rather than taking the work out of the pharma organization—they ask consultants and researchers to come inside
and work alongside in-house staff.
On-site Teams 101
On-site scientific teams work on company premises but are managed by a solutions provider. This frees up in-house staff for
more critical activities.
Certainly, these services hold the greatest value for companies who want clinical functions to stay internal, have the necessary
equipment and infrastructure to house a project team, and seek a true partner. Small organizations that don't have space,
equipment, or capacity to handle additional workers may not be able to best leverage this service.
For the appropriate company, on-site clinical teams offer several advantages:
Greater control By keeping work on-site, companies have greater control over the team members and work processes. The pharma company knows
that the scientific team put in place is the one that will work on the particular project. Project teams can also expand or
contract in a planned fashion according to workflow.
Fewer communication barriers Physical separation can lead to separate thinking. Scientific teams that share space can more easily build relationships
with company personnel and better understand the work.
Cost saving Clinical teams can offer a cheaper alternative to traditional outsourcing. The model allows pharma firms to use their own
overhead and equipment, for which they have already invested. In addition, the pay packages for clinical teams are less expensive
than for pharma company employees.
Predictability of costs Companies that outsource clinical teams pay a fixed rate for the services. This allows for predictable expenses within a
budget, even through ebbs and flows of volume. For example, spikes in the tests needed for a trial may require more man hours,
which might mean overtime costs. However, if the company pays a fixed rate for the service, it doesn't have to worry about
budget overuns due to overtime expenses.
HR away! In the majority of organizations, the average time to fill a position is 90 days. Very often, positions remain vacant because
managers don't have the time to find and interview candidates. As a result, projects can fall behind schedule. In this area,
outsourcing organizations generally have a pipeline of candidates, thereby reducing the amount of time needed to fill a vacancy
and eliminating the time managers spend interviewing candidates and dealing with human resources issues.