Rating Pharma Contract Manufacturers: Does Perception Equal Reality?

A look at data on how the industry chooses with whom to outsource, and what it really thinks about potential partners.

By Paul Thomas, Senior Editor

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A year ago, Nice Insight, a division of the brand and marketing management firm That's Nice, began using its extensive database of pharma and biopharma clients to produce quarterly intelligence reports on industry habits and beliefs in regards to outsourcing and selecting contract partners. The data can be very telling in terms of what factors underpin decisionmaking regarding contract partners. And they can be controversial in terms of how contract manufacturers are ranked based upon market perception.

Here we present data from Nice Insight’s 2011 Third Quarter data, and gain analysis from Victor Coker, Director of Business Intelligence for That’s Nice, about some of the numbers.

PhM: Analytical testing ranked second in terms of service sectors to be outsourced (Figure 1). What’s your take on this—does it reflect the fact that many manufacturers have laid off workers with this particular expertise in-house?


V.C.: Besides the current renewed focus on early-stage development activities in order to rejuvenate drug pipelines the increase in analytical activity does not speak directly to any trend based around layoffs. The need to outsource is centered primarily around the technical requirements and capacity constraints presented by the molecule under development.

PhM: Consultants and referrals still top the list in terms of how companies select outsourcing partners (Figure 2). Do you expect this to hold firm, or will web searches and online directories gain in importance?


V.C.: There is no specific means by which we can forecast this trend in terms of overall preference. However, we have seen a marked increase in interest and engagement with sponsors looking for web-based selection tools. As to the rate of adoption, the industry as whole does not move quickly and hence we can expect similar lag in this area.

PhM: Your Customer Awareness (CA) and Customer Perception (CP) scores of contractors are bound to be controversial (Figure 4). Have you had inquiries and concerns from companies that have not scored favorably in these categories?


V.C.: We have had many of both and that is why we operate on full disclosure of our process. The data we present does not represent our opinions but rather that of the customers to the contract research and manufacturing organizations.

PhM: How do you want the CA and CP scores to be viewed and used?

V.C.: Customer Perception (CP) score measures the perception of a company's brand over the last three months based on the top six drivers in outsourcing. Customer Awareness (CA) score measures how familiar the industry is with a company's business and service offerings over the last three months. These metrics offer organizations a much more informed basis for strategic decision-making and the opportunity to differentiate themselves more effectively.

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