Cost vs. Value: Can We Have Both?

  • By Mirella Zulueta

More than ever new drug developers today have to have a very realistic attitude towards drug development.  Biotech and pharmaceutical companies are aggressively slashing prices in order to win business in a hyper-competitive industry. In order to make a study worth their efforts, these organizations always have one eye on the bottom line, potentially sacrificing value and quality while seeking to build in added costs along the way in order to maintain profitability. In this environment what’s needed is disruptive thinking. The kind that results in high-risk, unconventional, patient-oriented approaches leading to significant breakthroughs.

Not too surprisingly, a virtual approach model to drug development has seen the light in the last few years since its initial conception by Steven Burril in the early 1990s. This model thrives on biotech and companies that are knowledge-based organizations. In parallel, biotech and pharma freelancers-based model is springing up and using the depth, the knowledge and the complexity of a global community of experts. Some of the advantages for any company of drawing from freelancers include:

  • a lesser overall cost;
  • access to the best and most experienced individuals;
  • flexibility;
  • and an ever increasing wide network to resource from.

However, this operating model also presents a number of potential challenges, including an essential need for the core team to work together, in a tightly coordinated, time-efficient and cost-effective fashion; a necessity to cover a large variety of areas; immediate and focused responsiveness to each project evolution, and of course constant communication with all experts involved. In addition, budgeting of this kind of model may present its own challenges.

The key to making the freelancer model a success might be the inclusion of what I am naming “an organizing center” of the global community of niche-specific freelance experts. Such organizing organization would be shaped as a boutique clinical development firm; a one-stop shop with a collection of elite services provided by a team of individuals that work seamlessly with companies, freelance experts, CROs etc.  A boutique-style service company tending to the goals of reduced cost and increased value for its clientele would provide tailored solutions, low overhead associated cost, fast responsiveness, and an advance, state of the art, comprehensive array of transitional services that would foster efficient collaborations and long-term relationships.

So could we have both reduced cost and increased value through boutique shopping?

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