Pharmaceutical companies pride themselves in their scientific research talent but with healthcare reform raising the bar it may be time to take a closer, more critical look at the “expertise” they have had and what they will need for the evolving new healthcare market. Discovering, developing, and proving that innovative new products can meet “comparative effectiveness” and “best practice treatments of choice” market expectations will require research teams with different skills and functional expertise, and perhaps a high level of expertise than most pharmaceutical companies have considered in the past.
Unfortunately, today everybody seems to be considered an expert at something. Academic credentials and having worked in an area of study for any number of years does not necessarily make one an expert. In the real world, there are few who can claim a true level of “expertise”, especially in medicine and science or drug develpment. Why does this matter and how can expertise improve pharmaceutical R & D productivity?
Expertise brings an educated, insightful, and unique perspective to research projects. Expertise allows for efficiently processing of seemingly random pieces of data to draw conclusions and formulate correlations that otherwise might be dismissed or overlooked. Expertise provides a basis for intuitively identifying solutions to seemingly irresolvable problems. So what do you do about it?
First, who is on your team? Research teams will need a broader range of specialists who collectively have comprehensive therapeutic area or disease state knowledge and expertise. Does the team have somebody with biomarker and diagnostic development expertise? Is there a geneticist, molecular biologist, or genomics specialist? Is there a physician specialist with expertise? The specialists and expertise needed will be determined by the therapeutic area or disease being studied but it is almost certain to include expertise previously not considered.
Second. Does the team really include “best in the world”, “world class” therapeutic and functional expertise for the technology and disease being studied? A single expert on the team does not make a team of experts. So, who are the most knowledgeable researchers in the world, by functional specialty, for the disease states you are exploring? Are they on your team? Where are they? At competitor companies? At a CRO? In academia? If you don’t have them on your team, how are you going to get them?
The increasing demands of the evolving new healthcare market will challenge even the best of pharmaceutical research teams. No amount of money, information systems, computer programs, program management processes, or research management tools can replace the need for or the potential impact of strategically applied “expertise”. Successful companies of the future will know how to build teams with “world class” expertise to improve their R & D productivity.