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Five Winning Mantras to Optimize CRO Partnerships

| Key Takeaways

  • Avoid relying on a single CRO partner and treat them as partners by being transparent in discussions about pricing, KPIs, and experiences to enable optimal study startup and resource planning.
  • Optimize for parameters beyond cost, such as operational excellence, on-time delivery, quality, innovative tools, and budget accuracy, and collect data on pricing, study targets vs. outcomes, and partnership experiences to improve future studies with defensible, robust data. Additionally, consider future trends when selecting CRO partners.

1. Avoid a single-source model

No partner can do it all. While top CROs have global staff and broad therapeutic area expertise, capability gaps exist, particularly in emerging, innovative arenas like gene therapy and cell therapy launches. Also, a large study cutover volume often strains CRO operating models, requiring significant resource drain within a particular skill area – a surefire way to put study timelines at risk!

2. Treat your partner like a partner

In exchange for a partnership, biopharma companies should realize tangible benefits in terms of both pricing and delivery. Openly asking for additional benefits or highlighting concerns around pricing, KPIs and experiences is critical, as is tracking of the CRO partners’ ability to address these concerns. 

Lastly, it is a substantial mutual benefit for biopharma companies to share their upcoming pipeline and potential award with the CRO so enable optimal study startup and resource planning.

3. Optimize for the right parameters

Too often, cost is the only consideration when selecting a CRO partner. Operational excellence, on-time delivery, increased quality, access to innovative tools and budget accuracy are all critical parameters that may be forgotten, leading to a propagation of downstream costs, study delays and lost innovation potential.

4. Learn, learn, learn!!!

How often do study sponsors benchmark pricing across CRO partners, archive study targets vs. outcomes, or most importantly, study true experiences in the partnership? Simple measures to capture this data will empower future studies with defensible, robust data.

5. Look where you are headed

Long-term patient monitoring presents a strong opportunity for decentralized trials and remote monitoring, and studies with a heavy APAC-based patient population are growing in frequency. Partnerships must be positioned optimally to take advantage of these trends.

| About The Authors

Zeid Barakat brings over 20 years of expertise across the biopharmaceutical value chain as a consultant and entrepreneur. Zeid also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Tufts CSDD and enjoys playing tennis (former Davis Cup Team of Jordan), chess, and painting.

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