AstraZeneca's IT effort pays for itself

A clinical trial automation deal has wandered into systems standardization and data management territory, yielding an IT spending cut of $92 million.

Drug giant AstraZeneca began working with IT consultancy Cognizant two years ago on a $95-million services deal. The work, expected to run five years, involved electronic data capture and reporting for some 150 studies per year, says a UK computing media outlet.

At the outset, AZ used 1,100 IT staff in its operations. Cognizant got to work on implementing electronic data capture for clinical trials, and on automating the functions of planning, medical coding, adverse event data reconciliation, and clinical data management.

Two years in, the drug maker's IT head count has dropped to 50, now being assisted by 300 at Cognizant. Ongoing standardization efforts target the 50 varied processes and systems accumulated through mergers. The partners aim to cut that number in half.

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