New England PharmAssociates

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Accelerating Drug Development…With Contract R&D

I am getting set to moderate a panel discussion at MassBio’s upcoming symposium: “Accelerating Drug Development” . This one-day event, a production of the new MassBio CRO/CMO Committee, is being held at Bentley University on March 6; and features Massachusetts-based leaders of contract research services companies and the companies that hire them, giving presentations and leading interactive discussions. As you might suspect from the title, many of the presenters will have something to say about efficiencies that can be achieved (time and capital) with well planned and executed contract research relationships.

Anybody is welcome to attend and participate in the symposium, it’s not just for Massachusetts audiences, but it is important to note that at least some of the emphasis will be on the services companies operating within the Massachusetts life sciences super cluster . Certainly a major component of the message will be addressing economic growth among the companies involved with organizing the event. An important and somewhat related message may be the many benefits of having a contract lab reasonably close to home. Recent years have seen increasing acceptance, sometimes enthusiastically, of outsourcing R&D activities in virtual and semi virtual business models. In keeping with the local theme, Boston based VC Bruce Booth (Atlas) has often made the case for the potential efficiencies of outsourcing in his blog posts and in speaking engagements. Derek Lowe, another Boston area has blogged on the rapidly increasing cost of outsourcing to China (decidedly not local). While offshore outsourcing has been quite popular, there are hidden costs beyond the FTE rates that may be difficult to manage, particularly for a small company.

Much has been written on the pros and cons of every conceivable mode of getting stuff done, with and without contract labs, and I do not wish to try to provide an exhaustive review here. Just wanted to point out that, on March 6 at Bentley University, there will be an opportunity to hear presentations and to participate in discussions on the subject with executives from both vendor and sponsor companies. There will also be an impressive array of local service companies showing their stuff. If you are currently outsourcing components of your R&D, planning to begin a project with external resources, have strong opinions on the subject, or just interested in learning from the experiences of others, don’t miss the “Accelerating Drug Development” symposium – it will be well worth a day trip to Bentley University, in nearby Waltham. Hope to see you there.

By: roger.frechette