Technological Orientation is Re-shaping the Pharmaceutical Research Sector

Ajit Manocha, Associate Vice President & CIO, Syngene International
Several pharmaceutical companies are currently relying on outsourcing as an alternative to create expensive development strategies. The outsourcing to CROs (Contract Research Organization) can take place at any point in the R&D program. For instance, the project could be in its early stages, mid-way or awaiting clinical trials. The CROs have to continue with the research till the products desired by clients are formulated. While doing this, the major challenge that CROs face is arriving at the right research strategies, ensuring the viability of cost involved, meeting the deadlines and delivering top-quality products.

Meanwhile, the entire process requires IP Security at all levels to retain secrecy of the R&D process well-maintained for all clients. Another challenging task is to combine the commercial and scientific aspects during R&D for cost-effective and quality results.

Key Trends Influencing the Industry

Technological advancement is the critical trend impacting the pharmaceutical research sector. There is utmost focus on data configuration and security, and clients are demanding installation of specific security systems when work is outsourced. Earlier, the research activities were recorded in a physical lab notebook similar to the practical record books used in science labs. However, the modern days are heading fast towards an electronic era, and so is the R&D industry. Nowadays, the Electronic Lab Notebooks have captured the market. This electronic notebook is where each and every aspect in the research is recorded instantaneously, which further takes the data to the clients. Therefore, clients remain constantly updated about how the outsourced work is progressing.

With time, the focus has shifted to technological orientation of R&D from a commercial outlook, a concept that dominated the sector for a long time. The Re Laboratory Management System (RLMS) is another major factor coming up in the industry for management of Lab information.

Currently, several pharma companies have commenced cloud-based approach to research, and following their path are CROs. We have, with attempts to combine our mails into cloud, recognized this trend. The other aspect is the mobility that is being driven by the end users which will ultimately increase investments in the coming years on mobile device management which in turn will enhance work-life balance. From a business perspective, companies have realized the viability of social media as a great marketing tool and an effective knowledge base. Considering the amount of data resulting in the process, advance data managing systems are anticipated in the immediate future.

Taking into account the present trends in Pharmaceutical sector, there are two aspects with maximum potential for incorporating cloud technologies: the commercial and research sections. Cloud is effectively implemented when exposure to these parts are balanced. Several companies are working towards making such a combination possible. For instance, some of the leading companies are upgrading their sales section to cloud. Concerning mobility, advancements in mobile device management are massive, and these advancements should be aimed towards ensuring maximum productivity without compromising on quality and security. Firms across the globe have commenced deploying social media technologies within the organization in order to allow a common platform for employees in case of a critical issue. Such a facility remains impossible as far as normal meetings with limited number of people are concerned. In simple words, if there is a big organization spread over different regions and countries, it can build a knowledge base and resolve several complex problems arising all of a sudden. Moreover, the solutions would come quickly as productive discussion is enabled among the participants. Yet, there is lack of proper governing mechanisms which could facilitate utilization of this technology into all the aspects in a business venture.

‘Security’ A Key Concern

Security apprehension has always been a sensitive aspect for pharma companies. Now-a-days, attempts towards ensuring security have turned multi-purpose. Firms should emphasize on general security and training sessions could be implemented based on the requirement. However, at Syngene, there is more emphasis on security at a social level. Real-life scenarios that are often encountered in CRO industry are re-created and loop-holes are highlighted. It is a viable approach to seek individual responses as to what security is and how would the reaction towards such scenarios be. Every employee should be informed on the security policies followed, so as to prevent lack of awareness coming up as an excuse. We always subject our networks to tests for loopholes and have successfully tackled most of the security concerns. Technology will re-shape the pharmaceutical research industry in the coming days and we will see more integration among the research and the pharma industry at large.