Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Strategic Alignment" a Stumbling Block in Pharma-CRO Alliances

Despite Infrastructure Investment, Implementation Struggle Persists

By Marc Dresner, IIR

Over the last 5-7 years, pharma sponsors and CROs have refined the strategic alliance model to a point where, generally speaking, structuring partnerships is a fairly straightforward endeavor.

The degrees to which they’re being successfully implemented, however, fluctuate fairly wildly.

That’s according to Patty Leuchten, President & CEO of The Avoca Group, which specializes in strategic alliance and relationship management consulting and research for pharmacos, biotechs and CROs.

Patty Leuchten
Avoca Group is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, so Inside Clinical sat down with Leuchten to discuss the progress the industry has made in strategic alliances and where companies are still struggling.

“The industry as a whole has become really adept at creating a structure for strategic alliances,” said Leuchten, “but there are still significant gaps in their successful implementation.”

Leuchten says most implementation problems center around communication and what Leuchten refers to as “strategic relationship alignment.”

“Ensuring close collaboration and that both sponsor and CRO are deriving significant value from the alliance can be more challenging than developing the strategy, itself.”

“Ensuring that there is close collaboration and that both sponsor and CRO are deriving significant value from the alliance can be more challenging than developing the strategy, itself,” Leuchten told Inside Clinical.

“The tough stuff has to do with implementation and establishing a clear vision for the alliance, effectively communicating that vision with the staff, and implementing a change management approach so that the staff—the personnel on the front lines within the sponsor and the CRO—can live and breathe that vision, and understand specifically their respective roles,” she added.

Not establishing a clear vision, effectively communicating that vision and respective roles with personnel and implementing a change management approach continue to hinder alliance efforts.

In this segments 3-5 of this five-part interview with Inside Clinical—the official podcast series of the 23rdAnnual Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference—Leuchten reviews:

● Key relationship management principles

● Common internal challenges sponsors face

● Best practices for CROs to effectively engage sponsors

These three segments conclude a five-part podcast interview with Patty Leuchten.

Prior episodes may be accessed on the Partnerships in Clinical Trials blog.

To learn about the Avoca Groups 2014 industry research, click here.

To get an update on the latest of partnership guidelines initiative underway at the industry Quality Consortium, click here.

Editor’s note: The Avoca Group will present its 2014 research data for the first time at the 23rd Annual Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference running March 30-April 2 in Las Vegas.  As a reader of this blog, when you register to join us and mention code XP1900BLOG, you can save $100 off the current rate!
For more information or to register, please visit

Marc Dresner is IIR USA's senior editor and special communication projects lead. He is the former executive editor of Pharma Market Research Report, a confidential newsletter for marketing researchers in the pharmaceutical industry. He may be reached at Follow him @mdrezz.

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