It's More than a Business
The most important takeaway gathered from the interviews with executives is that the increased levels of satisfaction with
CRO partners is due to the larger investment they are making in those relationships.
"There has been a steady trend toward wanting to build higher-level relationships, strategic partnerships, strategic alliances,"
says Solomon Babani, vice president of alliance management at Celtic Therapeutics. "In order for those types of relationships
to work, there has to be a lot more effort put into the relationship itself."
"Sponsors are taking more time to focus on the relationship with their service provider, and that additional time includes
more clarity on expectations," says Patrick Nealon, senior director of clinical operations at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology
Co. "I think the additional clarity and time spent is adding up to a better outcome."
All of the executives interviewed—whatever the size of their company—cite similar ways in which they are focusing on the relationships
with providers. Each of the sponsors reports:
» Greater investment in strategic partnerships with key CROs;
» Structured ways/systems to manage the relationship better;
» Providing CROs with greater clarity about expectations;
» Using/developing metrics to measure how well the relationship is working; and
» Working to change the nature of the sponsor/CRO relationship because both sides realize the old transactional style doesn't
work; they need to work as a team in a collaboration.
While all the executives are still most concerned with the quality of the output in any outsourcing relationship, the importance
of honesty and good communications is always mentioned in the next breath. "First is their ability to provide quality output
for a clinical program," says Nealon. "The second thing that is critical to me for a pivotal trial is ongoing communication
at a management level—management oversight of a program, management input on the ongoing operational activities in a program.
Communication is very important at the senior level because it's a message that is driven down through each organization.
That is what makes for a successful partnership."
If honesty and trust are among the most important factors in the sponsor/provider relationship, they are also the basis from
which most other successes—and failures—flow. When problems arise, they are frequently traced back to a lack of honesty and