Outsourcing is the way to go


In the Academy Award-winning movie “The Graduate”, a businessman offers one word of career advice to Dustin Hoffman’s confused character Benjamin Braddock. “Plastics,” he says.

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This was the cutting-edge trend in 1967 when the movie was released however in today’s Japanese Pharma industry, the one word resounding from the lips of top executives is “outsourcing”.

Pharmaceutical companies are outsourcing sales, clinical trials, data management and recruiting more than ever before. The industry is no stranger to outsourcing. Companies such as Covance, Quintiles, Bushu Pharmaceuticals, ICON and Medidata have all prospered in the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market.

It’s true that pharmaceutical companies have been tightening their belts but ironically, that’s not necessarily to everyone’s disadvantage.

Both Clinical Research Organizations (CRO’S) and Contract Sales Organizations (CS)’s) are proving that cost effective and flexible sales forces are keys when launching products, but they are not the only specialists in high demand.

Other growth industries within Japan’s pharmaceutical realm have been boutique-consulting companies, such as IDEC Inc, which enable smaller foreign companies and new entrants to develop clear strategies and development pathways for their clients.

The leading foreign companies are all looking at more cost effective ways of doing business in Japan. One president described to me how he was restructuring his company, in particular his back-office functions, and re-aligning these resources to his sales effort.

Again he spoke of the highly cost-effective strategy of contracting out sales work because it enabled the company to allocate resources in a timely fashion when launching a product

As more companies restructure, as more mergers and acquisitions take place, and as more multinational companies implement their global process in Japan, outsourcing will continue to grow and flourish.

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