From The Editor | December 20, 2013

WIB Profile: Increased Challenges For Pharma Foster Closer Partner Relationships

By Ed Miseta, Chief Editor, Clinical Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @EdClinical

Ed Miseta
Laura Marquis, VP, Customer Solutions Management Group, Quintiles

Challenges in the pharma and biopharmaceutical industries, such as the end of the blockbuster model, the patent cliff, and rising costs, has companies relying more and more on outsourcing partners. In this Women In Bio (WIB) profile article, Laura Marquis, VP, Customer Solutions Management Group at Quintiles, discusses her job, the challenges her clients are facing, and how many of them are best dealing with those challenges. She also discusses what professional women can expect to get out of their affiliation with Women In Bio.

1. Tell us about your role at Quintiles and what that involves.

As vice president within Quintiles’ Customer Solutions Management Group (CSMG), I manage the strategic partnership program between Quintiles and one of our customers. In this role, I work closely with the customer to develop and align goals, monitor the progress of the partnership toward achieving those goals, while making any needed adjustments to our operational efforts to ensure we deliver on our commitments.

2. What are some of the biggest challenges your customers are currently facing?

There are a number of factors facing the industry, including increasing costs, complexity and regulatory scrutiny, coupled with decreasing productivity and return on investment. From a cost perspective, financial pressures are requiring a tremendous amount of change in how many of our customers run their businesses, prioritize their pipelines, partner and innovate.  Each one of these changes adds new complexity that must be managed without impacting quality or operational delivery timelines.  While these developments can be challenging, it is important to remember that each comes with new opportunities for an industry to reinvent itself through innovation and strategic partnerships.

3. Why are customers having these challenges?

There are a number of aspects that contribute to these challenges.  First, the “Age of the Blockbuster” is gone, and at the same time, there is increased competition from generics – all of which combine to add to the pressures on our customers and their development efforts.  Next, there is an increased pressure from payers to balance and align treatment costs with the benefits.  Finally, clinical research is more complex now than it has ever been.  This added complexity leads to increased development costs, unless the appropriate changes in infrastructure, technology and processes are created to offset these expenses.

4. How are your customers dealing with these challenges?

One trend we have seen is an increased customer interest for deeper and more strategic partnerships.  Innovative partnerships and alliances are critical to the health and success of the industry and, in turn, to bringing new therapies to patients. Biopharma companies collaborate with service providers to help them maximize efficiencies, improve clinical success rates and turn fixed costs into variable costs. In addition, our customers are looking for ways to leverage data to make quicker “go/no-go” decisions about a product to increase the probability of success and reduce development costs.  When you think about the expertise and data contained within CROs, it makes perfect sense for pharmaceutical and biotech customers to work with them in a much more strategic manner.

5. It seems like some of the pressure being faced by pharma companies is being pushed onto CROs, who are always being asked to do more for less cost. How are CROs dealing with that challenge?

Being asked to do more for less is a challenge faced by all in the industry, but it has also brought about opportunities.  As I mentioned before, partnerships are becoming more strategic and collaborative, which is a great opportunity.  Our customers rely on us for our therapeutic and operational expertise rather than just delivering on a set of discrete tasks, as was common in the past. Like our biopharmaceutical customers, cost pressures are simply part of the environment in which we all operate.  For all of us to remain competitive, we must continue to find ways to be more efficient, leverage data and innovate – all while continuing to deliver high-quality results.

6. What is the most important thing that female professionals can expect to get out of Women in Bio?

Women in Bio gives women increased visibility in the bioscience industry. It is also an enabler for those who want to develop their careers, learn more about the industry and/or want to give back to the female bioscience community. It provides women opportunities for leadership beyond their current position through participation in the various committees and local events. In addition, there is a sense of community within the local chapters, which is especially helpful for those looking to take the next step in their careers and build relationship networks. These professional development activities — outside of the day-to-day work environment — give women additional perspectives and opportunity to focus on how best to develop their careers.