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Outsourcing: The Name of the Game

Outsourcing drug discovery and development has become the key to making the entire drug research process more efficient. Over the past few years, pharmaceutical companies have realized their current format of doing all work in-house is unsustainable, given the constant challenge to reduce costs and increase efficiency. They have suffered decreased productivity, higher costs, and with the ongoing patent cliff, have realized something needs to change. The name of the game for drug research today is outsourcing.1

Outsourcing makes it easier to access research capabilities and experts on demand, thereby empowering researchers. Other benefits include dramatically reduced costs, shortened development times, improved productivity and higher quality.

Many companies maintain a core of scientists in-house, while making use of contract labs and academic institutions to outsource much of the actual work. By contracting to smaller specialist providers, large companies can tap into their knowledge pool and gain access to skills and techniques that would be financially impossible to maintain in house. In the case study of Nitto Denko, a large technical corporation headquartered in Japan, they realized 85% cost savings at their San Diego facility by outsourcing a project. Instead of paying $40,000 to synthesize a control compound, they paid only $5,000 to a vendor they located through Scientist, an online research exchange that connects scientists with companies offering services in a specialized area.

There can be challenges when it comes to outsourcing, but with awareness and proper management, they are easily overcome. Potential challenges include readjusting the mindset of the pharmaceutical company, focusing on mutual respect, collaboration and communication.2 The setting of research timelines and deadlines is also of great importance. By having thorough project management with agreed upon deliverables and timing, previous barriers are removed, enabling innovative research and results for all parties involved.

So how does a pharmaceutical company find the right outsourcing partners? One popular route is to utilize online tools such as research exchanges, which can be thought of as a combination of Google and Amazon for research services. Research exchanges, such as Scientist, enable research scientists to rapidly drill down through thousands of global vendors to find the handful that can provide the exact custom service they need, when they need it. In fact, using these platforms, a researcher can take a compound from idea all the way through to the clinic, outsourcing every step in the process. Ultimately, they enable scientists to bring higher quality compounds to the clinic in a shorter period of time. In the modern pharmaceutical industry, that is the very definition of innovation.