Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is moving part of its drug safety monitoring operations to India in an unprecedented move for the pharma industry.
The US-based drug maker has teamed up with outsourcing solutions provider Accenture to launch the industry's first joint pharmacovigilance centre.
Indeed, according to the two companies, this is the first time a collaboration for 'end-to-end' safety case processing has been established and includes specialised activities, such as medical review of any reported adverse reactions.
The new pharmacovigilance centre will be operated by more than 140 Accenture employees that will undertake the processing and coding of adverse event data and the generation of regulatory reports on safety as well as physician medical review of adverse events.
The team is organised as a parallel process and extension of the BMS pharmacovigilance headquarters' operations and will allow for the seamless handling of data and reports between Accenture and BMS while not compromising patient safety, the companies said in a joint statement.
"Working with Accenture, Bristol-Myers Squibb will continue to access world-class talent to deliver on our regulatory obligations, while enhancing our focus on patient safety," said John Balian, senior vice president of Global Pharmacovigilance and Epidemiology at Bristol-Myers Squibb.
"Leading companies are re-thinking their operating model to drive sustainable growth and productivity," said Eric Sandor, managing director of Accenture Pharmacovigilance Services.
"Through a truly collaborative partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb we have established an industry leading operation that is delivering substantial efficiency and improved flexibility for Bristol-Myers Squibb's pharmacovigilance organisation."
The pharmacovigilance centre is part of Accenture's Life Sciences Centers of Excellence in Bangalore and Chennai that BMS already utilises.
Part of the multi-year R&D deal inked in April this year, the new center furthers BMS' efforts to significantly expand its research capabilities in India as an integral part of the company's global strategy.
The company recently announced its restructuring plans and James Cornelius, the CEO of the pharma giant admitted that it would "include workforce reductions in some areas and the rationalisation of some facilities."
In a conference call, Cornelius said: "The challenge is to reduce costs while at the same time continue in investing in growth areas.
"With a promising R&D pipeline, we plan to invest further in R&D and the business including specialty medicines and biologics where we see tremendous growth potential."
He also said that he didn't expect the reductions to influence BMS' ability to recruit and retain talent.
Andrew Bonfield, chief financial officer at BMS, said he expected R&D spend to increase in the mid single digit range this year.