The prediction by ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services (RPS) CEO Dan Perlman came on a busy first day of the Partnerships in Clinical Trials (PCT) Congress in a conference programme that was dominated by discussion of the pros and cons of various Pharma-CRO partnering models.
Perlman, who is chairman-elect of the US Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO), put forward the case for strategic deals, describing alternatives like Functional Service Provider (FSP) models as high level staffing plays that do not allow Pharmas to reduce costly internal capabilities.
He was similarly forthright about Preferred Provider relationships, commenting that: “I have never seen one Big Pharma company keep a preferred provider for more than five years...they always seem to change providers when the opportunity arises.”
Instead Perlman expects that in the near future most Big Pharmas will outsource development using either a programmatic model where trials are done by one or two partners or an embedded approach where CRO expertise is brought in-house and internal capability is shed.
The difference between the two models is control, Perlman continued, explaining that in the programmatic model the Pharma is reliant upon its partners’ operations whereas in the embedded model, initially, sponsor-developed mechanisms dominate before best practices are established.
He did voice some concerns about strategic partnerships particularly in relation to change order fees which he said were too often not factored in to cost estimates but was still confident that Pharmas using such models stand to make greater saving than those using other approaches.