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The Editors blog

An inside look at what’s happening within the pharma industry and across the PMGroup from the PMLiVE editorial team

A few brief thoughts on partnerships

How working together is gaining importance in the pharma industry

David StoneIf you have spent any time at a pharma conference this year, especially those hosted by the ABPI, I'm fairly confident you would have heard at least one person extolling the benefits of forming partnerships.

And it's a great and necessary idea.

Of course, the concept of forming business partnerships is nothing new, but for an industry whose commercial success has historically relied on closely guarded research data, this is relatively unknown territory.

The traditional view that pharma works behind closed doors until a fully formed drug is brought to market, is steadily being replaced by a new business model that includes shared data, financial collaboration and joint working schemes.

Within industry, examples of partnerships are becoming more and more frequent, with recent examples including the HIV initiative ViiV Healthcare, which began as collaboration between GSK and Pfizer and more recently has included Shionogi.

Speaking at the body's 2012 annual conference, ABPI CEO Stephen Whitehead said: “The various challenges and financial difficulties industry has faced over the past few years has led us to a period of modernisation. We are seeing greater externalisation, translational relationships, shared investment.”

Whitehead went on to explain that this process of externalisation was beginning to permeate the broader life science sector, stating that “we are now seeing industry partners with academia, with research charities, and with the NHS”.

And it's in this broader life science sector where we are most likely to see the next phase in this new age of partnerships.

The NHS has been tasked with improving the quality of patient care and productivity, while also delivering a staggering £20bn efficiency target by 2015. And industry, through the development of disease management pathways, HCP support, adherence programmes etc, is becoming an essential component for the health service's success.

Joint working partnerships are already beginning to appear, for example, in the form of smoking cessation projects or diabetes education for mosque leaders. But more is needed to be done to ensure these partnerships continue to grow and be successful.

One particular hurdle involves the issue of trust, something medical representatives have previously highlighted as the biggest perceived barrier to facilitating NHS/industry partnerships.

This is where communication is vital. In order to gain trust and to forge meaningful, long-term relationships, open honest communication is key.

Different parties in a partnership will necessarily be looking for different outcomes, but providing all sides agree on a common core purpose, namely, patient care, a compatible architecture for the partnership can be built to support aligned incentives.  

20th December 2012

From: Research, Sales, Healthcare

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