Q&A with Deborah Tanner, Covance

A Q&A with Deborah Tanner, executive vice-president and group president of R&D laboratories at Covance, on recent industry trends.
Dec 02, 2011
By PharmTech Editors

Deborah Tanner, executive vice-president and group president of R&D laboratories at Covance


Deborah Tanner
PharmTech:
How will the industry remain innovative as it reduces spending on research?

Tanner:
Drug-development outsourcing appears to be one of the best models to reduce pharmaceutical clients' fixed costs and drive industry innovation. For pharmaceutical companies, it's often a matter of determining what's core and what's not core to their business. As a strategic partner to such clients as Lilly, Sanofi, Otsuka, and Merck, we work in joint functional teams to plan resources, share data, identify opportunities, and resolve issues for better outcomes.

Another force behind innovation and cost savings are asset transfers, which have been a component of some of our strategic partnerships. Since acquiring the former Lilly site in Greenfield, Indiana, in 2008, we've expanded the site to include biorepository and developmental and reproductive toxicology services. What used to be an in-house resource serving one company is now a hub serving more than 50 clients and driving drug development across multiple therapeutic areas.

PharmTech:
Do you see a new industry trend emerging?

Tanner:
Strategic outsourcing has created the most exciting and dynamic shift in the history of the contract research industry. It's been a game-changer for pharmaceutical and biotech R&D because it serves the industry's two most pressing, and perhaps conflicting, needs: to reduce costs and to get safe and effective new medicines to patients faster.

We also see some trends in certain service lines. Take chemistry, manufacturing, and controls services. In formulation, we're seeing more and more APIs with solubility issues. Designing the most appropriate physicochemical properties and the best formulation strategy to increase solubility, bioavailability, and permeability is more important than ever. Covance has a dedicated team of experts focused on API characterization, preformulation, and formulation development to help clients optimize their compounds.