Flexibility, understanding key for CRO and pharma trust, study says

Pharma companies are expected to continue outsourcing research and manufacturing duties to other outfits into the next few years. As such, one study, authored by global consulting firm Booz & Co. and Irish CRO Icon, looks at how CROs and big pharma companies can improve working relations, thereby boosting efficiency and value.

The report, entitled "Nimble Partnerships in the Pharma Industry: Well-Designed CRO Relationships Enhance Focus and Flexibility," was conducted by interviewing executives from some of the best pharma companies around. The report notes that four types of relationships are emerging between pharma companies and CROs and they are determined by the role the CRO expected to fulfill: qualified talent supplier, preferred capacity partner, preferred capability partner, and strategic partner.

Any relationship, professional or otherwise, shows that the key to success doesn't rest on one person (or in this case, entity). To get the most out of it, both pharma companies and CROs need to know what the other is after and each side must be flexible in catering to the other's needs, based on those four relationship models. CROs will need to provide innovative approaches in activities that range from monitoring to data-driven insights to employee retention. Pharma companies will need to work around the CROs' skill sets and engage with them to ensure clarity and communication.

"Developing the capabilities to partner with clinical research organizations is a critical key to success for pharma companies in today's increasingly complex and competitive environment," said Matthew Le Merle, a partner with Booz & Co., in a statement about the report. "But our research clearly showed that most companies are not structuring their CRO relationships strategically. This is wasting time and money they can ill afford to lose."

- here's the study (.pdf)
- get the release