I was reminded of this again when opening my latest copy of 'Pharmaceutical Outsourcing' magazine. In this October 2010 issue I ran across an article by Chris Hilton of Pfizer, giving a great summary of the work being done by its Development Operations group.
As you may imagine, a significant part of the article focuses on Pfizer's growing and greater reliance on outsourcing. For example, the article states that in the past 5 to 7 years, the number of internal staff performing such functions like monitoring, data management and clinical programming has dropped from about 3,000 to 400 [no, this is not a typo].
At the same time, the number of external colleagues has gone up from roughly 100 to 2,400, most working for a group of 20 CRO's.
Doing some simple math got me to conclude that the total number of workers has stayed about the same. Of course, I don't know what is really going on here and one would need to ask the author what is behind the numbers. For example, are more studies being done by fewer people? Did the types of work being done change in any significant way? To what extent are technologies used affecting staffing?
Some other interesting facts (gold nuggets) noted in the article are:
- Year after year, the Last Patient Last Visit (LPLV) to Database Release time interval continues to drop
- The number of days from database lock to final CSR has dropped from 200 to 80 days.
- 1.2 databases are locked each day
- Reduction in cycle times ranging from 39% to >60% in several trial processes like Clinical Study Report completion and Protocol Development
It is not my intention to review the whole article here. The best would be for you to read the whole thing and learn about other practices at Pfizer such as Functional Service Provider use, Reverse Auction Process, Continuous Improvement, Optimized Monitoring and Lean Six Sigma.
Read It! You won't be disappointed.