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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Outsourcing in the Biopharma Sector – Opportunity or Threat?

In the current economic climate, most organisations are taking a hard look at their business operations, looking for opportunities to reduce costs and streamline business processes. Outsourcing service providers are capitalising on the opportunities to assist companies in reducing headcount and internal investment, by taking over management of a range of business functions including finance and accounting, HR, logistics, call centres, facilities management, manufacture, legal support and research. Nowadays, it would appear that few business functions escape scrutiny as potential candidates for outsourcing.

THE OUTSOURCING PHENOMENON

Outsourcing is not a new phenomenon in biopharma. Contract manufacture, and contracted research and trials, have been a feature of the industry for years, but in many respects the sector has been slow to realise the potential for wider outsourcing of business processes. This is due in part to the heavily regulated nature of the industry. The banking and financial services sector, which was at the forefront of the current outsourcing wave, was similarly affected.

Initially, a reluctance to trust an external provider with management of key functions, and concerns relating to the international transfer of sensitive data to locations such as India and China, meant that banks would only consider outsourcing relatively straightforward non-core functions such as...

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Richard Barratt is a lawyer and principal of Barratt Legal, a specialist technology and outsourcing firm based in London. Richard has over 25 years’ experience advising on commercial and technology transactions. A large part of his work involves international joint and cooperative ventures for the development and exploitation of products and technology. Prior to establishing Barratt Legal, Richard spent 18 years at a prominent UK based international law firm, where he became global head of the firm’s intellectual property and technology group. More recently, Richard spent four years as head of the European technology group at one of the largest US global law firms.
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