The Impact of COVID-19 on Outsourcing

July 10, 2020

Pharmaceutical Technology spoke with Geoff Parker, co-founder of Scimcon about the impact COVID-19 is having on their business.

The bio/pharmaceutical outsourcing industry has seen an increase in R&D demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase in demand, as well as other impacts from the pandemic, has caused some contract research organizations (CROs) to shift focus and adjust their operations. Pharmaceutical Technology spoke with Geoff Parker, co-founder of Scimcon about the impact COVID-19 is having on their business.

PharmTech: What overall impact do you see COVID-19 having on the bio/pharmaceutical outsourcing industry?

Parker (Scimcon): Being connected to both vaccine and pharma companies’ trials, it is difficult to ignore just how many studies are on hold due to countries restrictions on movement and interpersonal interactions. This has a wide-ranging effect on clinical sites, central labs, CROs, and, importantly, on timelines for Sponsors’ studies completion. Sponsors are focusing more than ever on limiting face-to-face contact in trials through the use of eClinical systems from eConsent, ePRO, to eSource. Recent conversations with eClinical software companies and Sponsor organizations lead us to believe that there is at least a 50% increase [in] interest in eClinical systems implementations and roll outs. Could this increase in demand mean that eClinical technical teams will become the next ‘toilet role’ scenario?

PharmTech: Has COVID-19 impacted your business? If yes, how?

Parker (Scimcon): [In] our work within laboratory informatics and eClinical systems, the impact of COVID-19 has been positive and negative. There is increased buzz in the industry as COVID-19 projects are brought online with tight timelines and high visibility, and this can only be for the good. On the negative side, our team can no longer visit clients in person, and this makes conducting client workshops or solving deeply technical system issues just a little bit harder. Like the whole of the industry, however, we have embraced video conferencing and other technology solutions to mitigate these issues. For many of our team, it is two decades or more since they have spent this much time at home without international travel, and this is an unexpected but welcome silver lining to the current situation.

PharmTech: Have non-COVID-19-related projects been impacted by the need to focus on treatments for the pandemic?

Parker (Scimcon): Again, the landscape is varied in relation to this. For our clients that have specific COVID-19 projects, this has led to a defocusing of work in non-COVID-19 projects. This can mean key people and technology resources are re-purposed from inflight projects. However, on the other side of the coin, we have clients where the majority of their laboratory staff are working from home. This has injected added zeal to these companies’ informatics projects as scientists have more time for these none core activities.