Taren Grom, Editor
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Business not as usual. This month’s Forum — Virtual Pharma: Cheaper, Faster, but Doable? — hits a chord particularly close to home to us at PharmaVOICE. Over the past eight years, we’ve witnessed more than just a few companies coming to a virtual reality. In fact, Stan Bernard of Bernard and Associates says many of the larger, established pharma companies have been transitioning to a virtual model for years, particularly since the late 1990s. He says almost every core and supporting pharmaceutical function can be and has been outsourced, including distribution, manufacturing, clinical development, and significant parts of sales and marketing. The last bastion of in-house functionality, product discovery, has been increasingly outsourced to biotechnology companies and other research entities. With increasing competitive and cost pressures, progressive large and small pharma companies are strategically transforming to more virtual, networked models. (Please turn to page 10 for more from our industry experts.) While we are certainly not in the business of drug discovery or drug development (although my family thinks I have an M.D. when they are looking for free medical advice), we can relate to the opportunities and challenges facing many life-sciences companies that are operating virtually or are starting to explore a virtual model. PharmaVOICE operates under PharmaLinx LLC, a virtual company. Like most business terms, virtual means different things to different businesses and people. For us, being virtual means we are not constrained by a bricks-and-mortar structure when it comes to hiring talented, motivated, and passionate people — people who don’t happen to live within a 30-mile radius of the “headquarters.” Through the use of e-mail, intranets, scheduled Web conferences, and other technologies everyone on the staff can stay in touch with one another. Our forum experts also note that technology is one of the largest drivers toward a virtual model and because communications are vital it’s essential that all parties can stay connected no matter where they are in the world. For example, our team members are located around the globe; we have team members who operate in Australia, Mexico, Oregon, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Being virtual also means that we can apply resources — otherwise allocated to traditional business operations — into growing our existing businesses, maintaining the highest quality of our products, and exploring new and diversified services. Along the way, we did have to reassure more than just a few folks that the company was real. And because there were no blueprints for “success” we had to develop outside-the-box solutions and have been able to capitalize on great opportunities and offer flexibility to our staff who work hard to achieve a work-life balance not often available in a traditional office setting. In the drug-discovery arena, the most recent sector to begin exploring virtualization, a similar movement is afoot as companies look to capitalize on the benefits of a nontraditional business model, such as flexibility, a lower overhead, partnerships, and enhanced productivity. According to Mickey Garcia of Enovia, first-stage science has become more of a network collaboration that includes academia, CROs, pharma, etc., and because an important requirement for getting a drug to market more quickly is having wider networks of brainpower to tap into, the virtual model will become more popular over time. This model was not nearly as popular when we began to publish the magazine. We (Lisa Banket, Marah Walsh, and myself) encountered more than a few raised eyebrows as to the staying power of a business model that didn’t have the traditional look, feel, or touch of other publishing companies. We took this as a challenge to be different; hopefully we have succeeded in the eyes of our valued readers and clients. Taren Grom Editor According to one industry expert, the uptake of the virtual pharma concept varies based on three key factors: corporate size, age, and strategy. Coming to a virtual reality LETTER from the editor Publisher Lisa Banket Editor Taren Grom Creative Director Marah Walsh Managing EDitor Denise Myshko Senior EDitor Robin Robinson features EDitor Kim Ribbink Contributing Editor Carolyn Gretton design associate Cathy Liszewski national account manager Cathy Tracy CIRCULATION Assistant Kathy DeIuliis Copyright 2009 by PharmaLinx LLC, Titusville, NJ Printed in the U.S.A. Volume Nine, Number One PharmaVoice (ISSN: 1932961X) is published monthly except August and December, by PharmaLinx LLC, P.O. Box 327, Titusville, NJ 08560. Periodicals postage paid at Titusville, NJ 08560 and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to PharmaVoice, P.O. Box 292345, Kettering, OH 45429-0345. PharmaVoice Coverage and Distribution: Domestic subscriptions are available at $190 for one year (10 issues). Foreign subscriptions: 10 issues US$360. Contact PharmaVoice at P.O. Box 327, Titusville, NJ 08560. Call us at 609.730.0196 or FAX your order to 609.730.0197. Contributions: PharmaVoice is not responsible for unsolicited contributions of any type. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, PharmaVoice retains all rights on material published in PharmaVoice for a period of six months after publication and reprint rights after that period expires. E-mail: email@example.com. Change of address: Please allow six weeks for a change of address. 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