When market conditions, and methods of manufacturing, testing, and technology remain virtually unchanged for long periods, companies within that industry generally manage quite well doing everything in-house. However, when an industry finds itself in the throes of rapid and unexpected change, outside experts are often needed to provide the knowledge and expertise necessary for corporate survival. That is exactly where the pharmaceutical industry is, and why the value of pharmaceutical consultants is becoming undeniable.

In a ten-year-old article titled “Industry Focused: Pharmaceutical Consultancy” (Science, 17 November 2000), Tim Peakman offered some observations that are far more relevant now than they were then. He wrote: “The pharmaceutical industry has undergone radical changes in the last 15 years. It has trimmed the fat and become more efficient, but in the next 2 to 5 years the way it operates is going to alter fundamentally. Change is being driven from all sides, particularly through the impact of new technologies across the whole discovery and development process and from changes in the way that health care is funded and delivered.”

The changes Peakman spoke of have progressed even further, and there are other, more radical changes than those he had in mind in 2000. Growing FDA intrusion and compliance burdens, a dwindling number of blockbuster drugs and looming patent expirations, slowing growth in the market and shrinking profit margins, imminent novel healthcare reforms and increasingly heavy-handed government intervention, rapid technological advances and a growing number of combination products—all these are happening now or are on the horizon. As a result, the role of pharmaceutical consultants is both expanding in scope, as well as narrowing in response to needed specialization.

According to Peakman, in the past pharmaceutical companies mostly used general consultants for large business-wide endeavors like “cost reduction exercises or mergers and acquisitions.” “Today, the pervading beliefs about consultants [that they don’t really know much about the pharmaceutical industry or the science involved] are being overtaken by a recognition that using outsiders with specialist knowledge can have its advantages when dealing with the massive changes the industry is facing. Whilst there is still a need for what might be termed generalists in consultancy, more and more consulting organizations are arranging themselves into industry-specialized groups.”

This means that when a drug company turns to a pharmaceutical consulting firm to bolster profitability and hone its competitive edge, the consultants need to have a broad, deep base of knowledge and expertise. Perhaps even more important, good consultants also serve in a sort of “prophetic” capacity of identifying and keeping abreast of developing trends in a rapidly changing industry, preparing companies to adopt pertinent changes so as to remain competitive when the trends are in full swing, thereby applying a type of preventive medicine.

Make no mistake, quality pharmaceutical consultants can be an invaluable asset. From developing a relationship built on mutual trust and respect, to their vast industry specific knowledge and analytical skills, qualified pharmaceutical consultants provide the tools and support that enables their clients to successfully manage costs, improve business performance, and enhance the quality of pharmaceutical products. Consultants can also provide solutions for the manifold certification and approval processes required by the government and other official entities for healthcare products and services.

Smart Pharmaceutical Consulting operates on the understanding that the client-consultant relationship is a partnership that promotes finding the best solutions to achieve the desired business objectives. With Smart Consulting, “you will have access to a team of professional full-time and associate pharmaceutical consultants who possess the expertise to help you in any industry-related challenge.”