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Time to cut the strings?

Joanna Payne


1 April 2011

Kevin Deane, life sciences and healthcare expert at PA Consulting Group, has been quoted extensively in a special report from Scrip Magazine on managing the relationships with clinical research organisations (CRO).

Commenting on the new pharma platform, Kevin says: "There is a major structural change in the industry. Pharma companies are now much more willing to source services from companies like CROs and various other places."

Kevin goes on to say that he always encounters CROs and their pharma customers talking at cross-purposes. He comments that it is not uncommon to see one person in a pharma company working on a particular programme for every three people in the CRO: "If you go to other outsourcing businesses you would never get a ratio anywhere near that. Sometimes the pharma companies might fear the way the CRO is handling a programme. It’s a reputation thing, they aren’t doing it to be awkward, but it is their product."

Kevin goes on to comment on the importance of personal communication and face to face contact when managing CRO relationships. He says: "80 per cent of success is showing up." He goes on to comment that more pharma companies are embracing a trusted approach: "Some pharma companies are now saying that if a CRO can suggest a better way of doing stuff that will also help you and also help us, then let’s try to talk about that so it forms a continuous improvement between the two companies."

Kevin comments on the importance of managing cultural issues as well as contractual, something that is particularly important when outsourcing clinical research to a partner in an emerging market. Commenting on how pharma companies welcome service providers to pre-empt problems and offer solutions, Kevin says: "This is something that Western CROs tend to do more than Eastern ones. Maybe because the Western industry is more mature, but there is also a cultural barrier here.

"There is a very clear perception that particularly Indian companies are very worried about raising issues. What the Western pharma companies have seen is that people in those cultures do not like to admit that there are problems and, of course, the pharma companies need to understand where the problems lie and need to figure out how to manage those."

To read about PA’s expertise on the future of healthcare, please click here.

To read about PA’s healthcare pages, please click here.

To read a previous article by Kevin Deane (with Gregory Berman, Bob Damms and Ian Rhodes) in European Medical Device Technology, click here.

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