Peter Bigelow, President, xCell StrategicConsulting, would be forgiven if he were not excited about another conference and exhibition. He’s been attending these events for over 30 years, including his share in 2014 already.
However, regarding Outsourced Pharma West Conference & Exhibition in San Francisco November 10-11, he is both excited and motivated by the targeted subject (drug development and manufacturing outsourcing) and streamlined format (all panelist and attendee discussion; no presentations).
“I love the idea that it is focused,” Bigelow says. “I don’t think there is another conference that is entirely about the CMO/CDMO industry. This show is really going to do that.” He adds, “The format for full discussion is ideal. There will be a lot of people there like myself without a bone to pick either way, who are not siding on issues with pharma companies or CMOs. We are going to tell it like it is.”
Bigelow has seen how “it is” in the pharma and outsourcing industry up close and from various vantage points. He spent 28 years at big pharma, 14 with SmithKline before the merger with GSK, and another 14 with Wyeth up to the Pfizer acquisition. He then moved to the provider side of the business as the CEO at Patheon during a strategic reorganization period. Today, he is the president of xCell Strategic Consulting for the CMO, supply chain, and general tech-ops areas. A role that developed as part of his consultancy was a long-term assignment to run the Qualitest® unit at Endo Pharmaceuticals — by volume basis, the fifth largest generics company in the U.S.
At Outsourced Pharma West, Bigelow plans to engage in discussions regarding relationships and partnering. “One of the things I have learned is that partnering is incredibly important, but in general it is being done very poorly in the industry. We talk about partnering between CMOs and pharma companies, but when you dissect decision-making and their way of going about business on a month-to-month basis, it is very transactional. I don’t think we are very good at all in this industry with creating true and useful partnerships.” Bigelow continues, “We are driven more often than not to a cost model rather than a quality model. We end up making decisions that do not take into account the real long-term lifecycle cost of doing business with a CMO.”
Bigelow has some ideas to share in November for both sides of the equation – sponsors and providers. He believes consolidation among CMOs is positive for the industry, providing critical mass for long-term partnerships. On the other hand, emerging biopharma companies with new business models can play a role in helping the industry to evolve. He also sees the streamlining of big pharma, from both a facilities and therapeutic focus, as an agent to push relationships forward. For consultants like Bigelow, all this means relationships between consultants and CMO or biopharma clients will become more important, long-term and strategic.
“At Outsourced Pharma West we will be able to say, ‘Listen guys and gals, you’ve got to start thinking about this if you are really going to get the most out of strategic relationships and if the industry as a whole is going to move forward,’” he says. “Most everybody who will be there has some role in the CDMO business. The service providers and the owners need some real open discussion. Let’s not keep the current situation where the only time they get together is to negotiate a deal. And so that upcoming dialogue is what is really exciting,” concludes Bigelow.
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