Q&A with Rich Tester

Aug 30, 2017

Rich Tester is an Associate Director of Chemistry at Celgene Corporation and a member of the MassBio CRO/CMO Symposium Steering Committee

Q: Based on your experience at Celgene, what should biopharma companies consider at a high level when they are considering outsourcing R&D or manufacturing?

The key to a successful collaboration is communication.  It is important to understand who will communicate with you and what their commitment to transparency is.  This applies not only to the CRO/CMO you are working with, but for your internal team.  Often, organizations see outsourcing only as a way to save on costs or add flexibility to their work force. It is important to understand that internal resources need to be committed to match and compliment the strengths and weaknesses of your outsourcing partner.  The best value is achieved when both sides understand the goals, react appropriately as circumstances dictate, and strive to bring the project in on time and budget.  A robust exchange of information is needed in order to facilitate any important project.

Q: What changes, trends, or new challenges in biopharma outsourcing have you noticed over the last year?

I’m not sure I would confine it to just the last year, but I have seen a migration away from simple cost based decision making when considering outsourcing options.  Time and time again, we have seen that making decisions based on cost alone can lead to a “you get what you pay for” outcome.  It seems the industry has recognized the value of the expertise our outsourcing partners can bring to the table.  Decisions are being made more and more on strategic alignment and longer term development of the relationships we have with our partners.

Q: Lastly, in your opinion, what’s the best reason for a CRO or CMO to attend this year’s event? And what’s the best reason for a representative from a biopharma company to attend?

I believe that the sourcing groups are looking for strategic partners.  It is very difficult for a sourcing lead to keep up with the ever changing landscape of CRO/CMO offerings as the organizations that provide services become more sophisticated.  It is important to keep touch with scientists and managers who are looking for these services.  It not only provides the CRO/CMO with an opportunity to try and gain new clients, it also allows them to gauge the pulse of what industry is looking for in a strategic partner.

As this landscape continues to evolve, it is just as important to keep up with the incredible variety of services being offered.  Many local companies can provide services that we may not be aware of.  This meeting gives me the chance to meet with vendors that might not otherwise be on my radar.  It also allows me to touch base with vendors I do know in order to see how there service offerings are evolving and to let them know about any future needs we think we may have.


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