Parexel described strategic partnerships as “the next phase” in relations between contract research organisations (CROs) and sponsors last year, and a glut of deals between pharma and CROs help to demonstrate the trend.
However, whilst the focus has been on contracts between Big Pharma and Big CROs - such as Merck Serono and Quintiles, GSK and PPD, and Pfizer with Parexel and ICON - strategic partnerships can also benefit small and mid-sized companies, according to Greg Ambra, VP of Clinical Operations at DZS Clinical Services.
“DZS is still a relatively small CRO and there are many sponsors who may be in search for more traditional, well-known CROs,” he told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. “However, because of our size, flexibility, core expertise, and broad range of eClinical services, we feel there is an unmet need in the small to mid-size pharma and biotech category that we can serve.”
The New Jersey-based company has just signed a multi-year and multi-project contract with SBI Pharmaceuticals, granting the Japan-based pharma firm access to all its services and software at preferred pricing globally, but with particular focus in the MENA region.
“We see a shift towards more ‘creative’ partnerships driven by both biopharm sponsors and CROs,” Ambra said. “We feel partnerships which create stability, have a risk-sharing element to them, are flexible, cost-effective and will become the trend over the next few years.”
SBI opted to partner with DZS rather than sign the CRO up under a straight-forward provider contract was due to a number of factors, according to Ambra.
“We have facilitated enrollment with creative solutions, and implemented cost efficiencies which SBI has appreciated,” he said. Furthermore, the CRO’s management team and steering committee, set-up to oversee activities, identify risks, and resolve issues quickly, “led to strong feeling of ‘partnership’ which eventually led to [the] agreement.”