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April 14, 2011
Coming Up in the World With CROs
Here's a topic that's not unrelated to that job-loss post below. Venture-capital guy Bruce Booth writes on contract research organizations (CROs):
Contract Research Organizations (CROs) have historically been sleepy fee-for-service partners for the drug industry, widely disregarded as not innovative, and their scientists certainly not treated with the same professional respect as their counterparts in Pharma R&D.
But this is clearly changing. . .Over the past decade, Big Pharma organizations have supported, willingly or not, a huge knowledge and talent transfer to CROs. Many of the project leaders in offshore CROs are Big Pharma trained medicinal chemists. Clinical trial management expertise has also flowed out of Pharma and into CROs. Furthermore, many CROs have recently been attracting some very seasoned executive talent. . .
He has a number of examples, for both companies and for people. His take on this is that the CRO world is (preforce) much more focused on cost containment than the Pharma one, since they've come up in a low-margin world, and that this (overall) could be a good thing for the pharma ecosystem:
An obvious ecosystem trend is that large pharma disgorges itself of more research sites and infrastructure, some of which will be shut down, others absorbed into existing CROs or spun-out into new ones. I also think smaller biotech will follow the same trend: more and more virtual or semi-virtual biotechs will be funded. . .
He could well be right about that - but working under these conditions will be a different experience, for sure, and a bumpy ride. But given the conditions in the industry, a bumpy ride is the absolute least that we can expect. . .
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