Quintiles reels in pharma business with IT game changers

Quintiles CIO Richard Thomas

A host of CROs have angled to set themselves apart with new information technologies, as innovations in Big Data and cloud computing offer potential benefits to drug developers. Now the IT chief at Quintiles has made a case that his group has turned fashionable tech into moneymakers and another reason why pharma companies such as Eli Lilly ($LLY) have done business with the CRO giant.

Richard Thomas, the CIO of Quintiles, has been a major advocate at the company for IT not only supporting pharma services such as managing clinical trials data but also churning out new sources of revenue for the CRO. And on top of generating about $40 million in revenue for Quintiles last year, he says, tech-driven innovations aided the company in bringing in some $400 million in new business, as InformationWeek reported.

Pharma has failed to master the reduction of risk and failures in clinical development, contributing to alarmingly high costs of bringing a new drug from discovery to market launch. Quintiles, which had more than $3.5 billion in revenue last year, has been growing in part because Big Pharma outfits have outsourced larger and larger amounts of development work to the company in search of more efficient R&D. And Quintiles, which last year rolled out a tech platform called Infosario, has aimed to boost its ability to serve its biopharma customers with innovations such as cloud computing and data analytics.

Thomas highlighted the company's work with Lilly. Quintiles and the Indianapolis-based drugmaker have worked together for three years on a tech-driven project called Semio, in which IT aces and business leaders from Quintiles team up with Lilly experts on such things as using healthcare data to optimize the design of clinical studies. As InformationWeek reports, the project strives to use tech to tackle the cost, risk and timing foes in the R&D battle.

While IT at Quintiles goes beyond supporting operations, Thomas wants his tech team to hand off ideas for tech-driven products to the company's business units that can maximize their market potential and look good in the process. It's a somewhat unique role for IT to play in a large organization, but one that seems to have worked well for Quintiles.

"We passionately believe in giving our ideas away," Thomas said, as quoted by InformationWeek. He also said: "New IT is definitely not for everyone. It's a bit out there, and it's not certain what it will look like when it's finished, especially with some of these game-changing types of initiatives."

- check out InformationWeek's article

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