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Notes from Orlando: Moving towards true partnership
Day three at the Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference started with a well-attended session that served as a case study about strategic partnership between a company and a vendor. In this case, it was a sponsor and a CRO but there are lessons in here that could apply to the translation world and beyond.

In 2009, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, after a thorough CRO selection process, established a strategic partnership with Covance. The intention of the partnership was to move beyond a traditional tactical vendor/sponsor relationship and become a true collaboration of partners. David Zuckerman of Customized Improvement Strategies, Rick Cimino of Covance and William Carson of Otsuka, talked this morning about how the collaboration is working after its first year.

Mr. Zuckerman started with a brief introduction of why Otsuka chose to strategically outsource. First of all, they needed cleaner data and faster time to market. Also, with a larger pool of people there are more opportunities to develop drugs and there is broader expertise and increased flexibility.

Otsuka selected Covance based on cultural fit and a collaboration based on vision and strategy. The change was managed by both companies but they chose to have a third party facilitate the partnership. The transition of work from tactical providers to Covance took place gradually over time. Relationship managers were put in place at key points. Goals were seamless integration, and good, clean auditable data.

So how did it go? In 2009, multiple projects were started, cycle times reduced, processes were harmonized and integrated and best practices developed. Joint pipeline planning was also initiated and governance was integrated. For the future, in 2010 the goal is to be a breakthrough year and 2011 will be to extend and consolidate.

Mr. Cimino and Mr. Carson discussed what was attractive to each company about the other. Core values that were shared between companies were a major factor in the compatibility. Mr. Carson said that in the selection process, several of the CROs in the running did not take the RFI seriously and did not tailor responses to the specific scenario. Mr. Cimino said that while Otsuka was screening partner CROs, Covance also had to determine whether the fit was right for them.

Both men talked about how this collaboration differed from others their companies have had in the past. One major difference cited by Mr. Cimino was the speed with which the relationship took off and the extent to which knowledge was shared between the companies. Mr. Carson talked about the change within Otsuka, a traditionally conservative, private company, and how early the company was willing to get Covance involved in the discovery period of drug development.

Mr. Cimino and Mr. Carson finished by discussing the lessons learned and key goals for the collaboration in the near future.

[ForeignExchange covers the Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference in detail. Check out our comprehensive coverage.]

ForeignExchange provides specialized medical translations for clinical trial applications, protocols, informed consents, patient diaries, INDs, patient recruitment, and health economic research. Contact us for more information about our clinical translation services.


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