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Pfizer simplifies contract research with Parexel and Icon

Published on 27/05/11 at 04:40pm

Parexel and Icon have been chosen as Pfizer’s two long-term partners, in a move by the US pharma company to streamline its use of contract research organisations.

The companies have been chosen as ‘strategic providers of clinical trial implementation services’ over a five-year period beginning in June 2011. The new partnerships will be put in place over an 18-to-24 month period.

Pfizer has made it clear that the move does not signal an increase in the volume of research work it outsources. Rather, by signing long-term contracts with just two CROs, the company hopes to save time and money currently spent on managing relationships with a multitude of different CROs.

Pfizer says the new approach will help it to focus internally on its core capability in clinical trial design, while exploiting the strengths and scale of Icon and Parexel to implement clinical trials programmes with greater efficiency and rigour.

Pfizer says its outsourcing efforts will allow it to adjust investment and activity according to the changing needs of the portfolio. In February this year, Pfizer announced the closure of its major drug discovery centre in Sandwich in the UK, signaling a move towards a smaller in-house R&D model.

Dr John Hubbard, senior vice president of development operations, explained why the two CROs were chosen: “We conducted a thorough selection process to find the right partners and selected Icon and Parexel because of the strength of their services and their steadfast commitment to quality and regulatory compliance, a deep belief in collaboration, and a strong drive to deliver success.”

He added: The Pfizer partnership incentivises Icon and Parexel to excel on four key parameters: quality, speed, cost management and innovation.”

Pfizer stressed that it will retain scientific ownership of the clinical development process, and maintain strict oversight and quality standards relating to patient safety and regulatory compliance.

“The two-partner model will simplify our processes, significantly reducing the number of external service providers we use for clinical trial execution, and clarify accountability in risk and quality management,” said Dr Hubbard.

Other pharma companies have also struck long term deals with CROs, although these have tended to focus on increasing the level of outsourcing.

Two years ago Lilly sold its Greenfield Laboratories facility in Indiana to Covance, and signed a 10-year outsourcing deal with the company worth $1.6 billion. Sanofi signed a similar deal with Covance in October 2010, also involving the sale of facilities and which was worth $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.

Andrew McConaghie

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