Pharm-Olam: Creating Paths for Better Clinical Research
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Pharm-Olam: Creating Paths for Better Clinical Research

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John Barry, COO, Pharm-OlamJohn Barry, COO
For any pharmaceutical or biotechnology company with a viable asset, time is of the essence and moving that asset through FDA approval and to the market as quickly as possible is a key priority. On the contrary, for many CRO and other service provider business models, the value is driven by the duration and volume of the work performed. We are left with an asynchrony in value propositions; time creates value for a CRO while eroding value for their customer. One CRO, Pharm-Olam, is leveraging its years of experience to bring synchrony into their customers’ value propositions. They do this through execution strategies and contract models that serve to align the value creation of both companies. “We are connecting the accrual of value for our customers with how we accrue value for our company,” explains John Barry, COO at Pharm-Olam. “Where we have responsibility, these contract structures create enforceable consequences for when we create (i.e., reduce time) or erode (i.e., increase time) the value for our customer.”

While doing this, Pharm-Olam is addressing another significant challenge for the industry in the lack of synchronization between the various providers working on a clinical trial. It’s an entire delivery ecosystem that can include a central lab, specialty lab, ePRO provider, imaging provider, and so on. Pharm-Olam discriminates the difference between its responsibility, or what they are contracted to perform and its accountability which is the delivery of a successful project to its customer. “Responsibility may be defined and bound by our contract, but our accountability spans the entire delivery ecosystem; our customer is only successful if the entire ecosystem delivers,” says Barry. “We link arms with our other ecosystem partners to make sure that we stay in sync with them and vice versa.”

Responsibility may be defined and bound by our contract, but our accountability spans the entire delivery ecosystem; our customer is only successful if the entire ecosystem delivers.

As the data volume in clinical trials continues to grow, CROs must stay updated, relevant, and leverage technology to help inform their decisions as well as their customers’. For this reason, Pharm-Olam maintains a strategic relationship with Medidata, a leading technology solutions provider. A key tenant of this partnership was Medidata’s willingness to embrace a similar accountability to the ecosystem working on customer projects. “For us, the Medidata technology platform provides the ‘fabric’ of this ecosystem, connecting each of the delivery partners together in a unified platform. It is a work in progess but we are excited about the early success we have already seen,” comments Barry.

Over its 25 years, Pharm-Olam has built significant capability in areas such as oncology, infectious disease, and rare and orphan indications. “These are red ocean areas where most CROs are present so we are also considering some blue open strategies we have identified.” These include the nonprofit and government space work in established and emerging geographies like middle and north Africa. Led by CEO, David Grange, a retired two-star general with a long history in Special Operations, Pharm-Olam has built networks that enable rapid deployment into these emerging areas and diseases.

Despite their success, Barry acknowledges that more work needs to be done, particularly in bringing clinical trials to the patients that need them. “In most cases, the patients and trials are out there but they rarely intersect,” explains Barry. “In the therapy areas we cover, the most promising treatments are likely still in clinical development and it is our job to bring these treatments to our patients.” The only way to do that before FDA approval is through clinical trials, in part because regulation changes have not kept pace with technology advances. “It still takes too long to bring a promising new treatement to the market. As an industry, this is a problem we must continue to try and solve,” concludes Barry.