AstraZeneca taps ePharmaSolutions for all-outsourced neuro unit

AstraZeneca ($AZN) is piecing together a team of contractors for its almost virtual neuroscience unit, and the company has signed up with ePharmaSolutions to create a network that will unite its many outsourcers.

Under the deal, ePharmaSolutions will create a common portal for Neuroscience Innovative Medicines (NS iMed), allowing external investigators to share complex data on a cloud-based platform. The portal will include an electronic trial master file, allowing AZ's internal team to keep tabs on study data from partners around the world.

NS iMed is a novel approach to drug development for AZ, matching about 40 in-house R&D experts with CROs, academics and other partners, a model Executive Vice President Menelas Pangalos told FierceCRO last fall will speed along research while limiting costs. Alzheimer's, neuropathic pain, depression and Parkinson's are some of the highest-risk targets in biotech, and sharing the costs and benefits with third parties will boost AZ's chances of success, Pangalos said.

Now, with ePharmaSolutions providing a data-sharing framework, AZ can jump-start its neuroscience development, NS iMed Vice President Steven Leventer said.

"A key strategy for our business is crafted around relationship-building and leveraging innovative solutions for data sharing with collaborators," Leventer said in a statement. "The capabilities brought to the table by ePharmaSolutions are aimed at enabling the AZ NS iMed to ramp up our clinical trial sites more quickly and efficiently."

The drugmaker has cut deep into its R&D budget over the past few years, replacing much of the work done in its internal wet labs with contracted help from the likes of Quintiles ($Q), Charles River Labs ($CRL) and WuXi PharmaTech ($WX).

- read the announcement