Clinical Development Outsourcing: Are We Having Fun Yet? - Pharmaceutical Executive


Clinical Development Outsourcing: Are We Having Fun Yet?

Pharmaceutical Executive

Figure 8: Overall, how satisfied are you with the work that has been done for you by Clinical Service Providers? (Does your company have written Quality Agreements with its CROs?)

Figure 9: Overall, how satisfied are you with the work that has been done for you by Clinical Service Providers ((Use of a formal, risk-based approach to levels of CRO oversight)?
The relationship between more formal approaches to provider management and satisfaction with provider performance does not appear to end with metrics. As another example, Figure 8 depicts the relationship between use of a formal Quality Agreement and satisfaction with provider performance, and Figure 9 depicts the same for use of a formal, risk-based approach to CRO oversight. The boosts in satisfaction, and the decreases in dissatisfaction, enjoyed by the groups that invest in such approaches are impressive.

But what explains the 2011 increase in providers' satisfaction with their client relationships? Again, could the difference be attributable to only a select group of companies with volume efficiencies and significant resources to invest in infrastructure? Or could the "new approach" to client relationships discussed in the 2009 and 2010 surveys—specifically the drive toward an increase in longer-term, more strategic relationships—again be responsible for the positive change?

Figure 10: In general, how satisfied are you with your relationships with the sponsors with which you work (% of revenue derived from "strategic partners")?
As was the case with sponsor companies, there appears to be little, if any, relationship between the size of a provider company (Top 20 in terms of revenue versus smaller), and satisfaction with sponsor relationships. Eighty-four percent of Top 20 provider respondents, and 80 percent of smaller provider respondents, were satisfied with their sponsor relationships. Similarly, there is little evidence of a clear relationship between the fraction of revenue derived from strategic partners and overall satisfaction with client relationships (Figure 10).

Might we, in fact, be at the dawn of a new era of outsourcing performance? Clearly, it's too early to tell. It does appear, from the 2011 Avoca results, that more sponsor companies are in fact pursuing more formalized approaches to CRO management, and that implementation of these approaches, and the benefits to be gained, are not restricted to the industry's largest companies. The fact that we continue to see strong relationships between quality implementation of such approaches and higher levels of outsourcing satisfaction suggests that the trend may continue in the future.

Also suggesting possible endurance of the positive trend is the fact that, for the first time since The Avoca Group has been conducting its research, sponsors and service providers appear to be improving in concert (Figure 1). Between 2006 and 2008, there was a wide gap between the satisfaction rates of sponsors and service providers—though the difference was not always in the same direction—suggesting that the forces leading to sponsor satisfaction, and those leading to service provider selection, were generally not the same, and may even have been opposing. Over the last few years, however, the gap has been closing, suggesting that the forces leading to the current high levels of satisfaction may be mutually beneficial.

Pharm Exec will build on the survey in our June issue where Avoca will explore factors that drive the expanding organizational and strategic links between the CRO community and Big Pharma, including best practices that allow for a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship.


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