The online service enables companies to have a query answered without the need to go through a lengthy consultancy process. Users fill in an online form, which has terms and conditions built in, and will generally receive a response in one to two days if the question is appropriate.
Anthony Hall, chief medical officer at PSR, told Outsourcing-Pharma that several clients have said they need a means of having short, simple questions about orphan drugs answered quickly. To serve these companies, and other firms with the same needs, PSR has set up OrphanIQ.
Questions about regulatory, clinical, reimbursement, ethical, and legal aspects of orphan drugs can be submitted. Hall said consultants, or in some cases regulators, could answer these queries but the appeal of OrphanIQ is its speed and simplicity for straightforward questions.
Each question is assessed by the appropriate expert to establish if it can be answered in less than one hour of consultancy time. If the question is suitable a response will be emailed. PSR charges €150 ($188) an hour for the service and breaks billing down into blocks of 15 minutes.
Hall said that four to five days after launching the service, which has only recently gone online, PSR received a call from a venture capital firm seeking information about orphan drugs.
For questions that PSR believes will require longer than one hour of consultancy time it will contact the company that submitted the query to discuss how to proceed.
This could include establishing a more substantial relationship between the company and the consultancy unit at PSR. Hall said he hopes OrphanIQ will drive business to other business units at PSR, including the clinical trial service offering which accounts for the bulk of its business.
In the past year PSR has chosen to focus its trial services and other units on orphan drugs and other specialised areas, such as paediatrics and complex oncology. Hall said PSR was already primarily operating in these areas and formalised the specialisation after discussions with clients.
Specialisation to occupy a niche has been discussed, for instance by BioCrossroads, as a way for smaller contract research organisations (CRO) to remain competitive against larger rivals in a market with fewer opportunities.