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Making a Success of R&D Partnerships

Posted on: 04 Feb 03


Biopharmaceutical companies face numerous challenges to boost their output of new chemical entities and to strengthen their product pipelines. In order to remain profitable and competitive, they have
Biopharmaceutical companies face numerous challenges to boost their output of new chemical entities and to strengthen their product pipelines. In order to remain profitable and competitive, they have sought to establish relationships with external partners. Alliances and collaborations offer numerous advantages as companies can gain access to new technological processes and expertise. The emphasis on alliances and collaborations as a route to success is highlighted by recent figures suggest that they are being formed in the biopharmaceutical sector at the rate of US$5 billion per year (1). Communication is key There is often considerable publicity surrounding the establishment of an alliance or collaboration, but little news of when such dealings fail. In fact, over a third of alliances fail to meet the expectation of the partners involved (1). Although technical reasons are often blamed for the shortcomings of such alliances, the real cause can often have more to do with differences in partner cultures and differences in objectives (2). Companies entering into collaborations need to establish structures and determine how to govern themselves in order to progress with the project. Successfully forming and managing a collaboration involves the establishment of a spectrum of relationships. Having a joint vision at the outset of the project is critical (2). As partnerships represent a major investment of time and money, they are expected to demonstrate value to the company as soon as possible. As a result biopharmaceutical companies have begun to pay more attention to alliance management in order to monitor this process. One of the problems in convincing people of its importance is the fact that alliance management is not an "exact science" and depends on clear communication and values such as trust. Achieving a successful partnership depends on the participating organisations cooperating in setting up systems and processes for the project, but the key is communication. Although, most company executives would list good communication high on a list of desirable objectives for a partnership, in reality it is often neglected or under-valued. Collaborations with CROs Biopharmaceutical companies are increasingly turning to CROs to help them with their drug development objectives. Initially, the relationships with CROs were pursued on a tactical basis but they are now very definitely entered into as longterm partnerships. With current estimates suggesting that pharmaceutical companies are using CROs on more than 60% of their clinical projects (3), it is important that adequate attention is paid to how these organisations can best work together. There is a view that in the past, because CROs were seen as a "stop gap" measure, biopharmaceutical companies did not make full use of their services and expertise on projects. Equally, biopharmaceutical companies are looking for CROs who will show them the flexibility and responsiveness needed to ensure that complex projects are a success. By using CROs more effectively, biopharmaceutical companies can avoid many of the costs of developing in-house facilities for particular projects. This helps reduce some of the risk in developing a new drug and allows a better control over the expenditure to develop the drug. Outlook Biopharmaceutical companies can benefit from a closer relationship to CROs, as they will be able to overcome some of the perceived problems associated with outsourcing such as lack of control, adherence to timelines, and confidentiality. As the two sets of companies gain a better experience of working together, the projects will represent the efforts made by both parties rather than just one partner and the results will be mutually beneficial. References 1. Design and Management of Pharmaceutical R&D Alliances. 2. Kermani F. and Findlay G. (2001). Making Drug Delivery Alliances Successful. 3. Kermani F. and Bonacossa P. (2002). Outsourcing for Successful Drug Development.

Pietro Bonacossa

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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