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TCS gets clinical

By T.V. Mahalingam     September 21, 2007

It’s a move that is likely to help India’s largest IT company get a slice of the humongous budgets of global pharma majors. Last fortnight, TCS announced that it had inked a deal with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche to provide a variety of services.

“What we do is offer a range of clinical services supporting the business of clinical trials. We do not conduct clinical trials but provide the underlying support in the areas of data management, clinical programming, biostatistics and drug safety,” says J. Rajagopal, Executive VP & Global Head— Life Sciences & Healthcare, TCS.

“Previously, this kind of work was being outsourced to CROs (Clinical Research Organisations) whose main business is the conduct of clinical trials.

We have taken the approach of functional outsourcing which essentially splits the two areas allowing us to offer these services,” adds Rajagopal.

TCS, led by S. Ramadorai, has made steady inroads in the healthcare and life sciences outsourcing market over the past one year. In November 2006, the company announced a deal with Eli Lilly and Company to set up a ‘Lilly-TCS Medical Information Sciences Center’, at its Noida site to provide services like clinical data management, statistical analysis and medical writing.

S. Ramadorai
S. Ramadorai

That was followed by a deal, this March, with GlaxoSmithKline to establish a global drug development support centre to provide services in clinical research, including clinical data management and clinical submissions support.

“The importance of this deal and the others with GSK, Lilly and Novo (Nordisk) is that it positions us well for similar deals in the pharma sector.

As a matter of strategy, we started focussing on the drug development space around two years ago and started making the necessary investments in people, competencies and infrastructure,” says Rajagopal who believes that these deals have expanded the company’s scope of service offerings to include newer areas like drug safety.

Drug safety continues to be a major concern even after the drug is on sale for pharma companies. TCS will help companies like Roche in collecting, analysing and preparing reports from the data.

International analysts like Parisbased Dominique Raviart with Ovum Consulting believe that the pharmaceutical sector is currently poorly covered by most IT and R&D services firms.

“The three largest European pharmaceutical firms in Europe, GSK, Sanofi Aventis and AstraZeneca, spent more than m11.4 billion in R&D in 2005! We would expect pharmaceutical players to be extremely conservative with the way they conduct clinical trials,” reads a report written by Raviart on the deal.

“If the Roche pilot with TCS is successful, this says a lot about the level of maturity and quality that top offshore vendors have reached,” adds Raviart in the report. At present, TCS’ Life Sciences vertical employs over 3,500 people and represents over 5 per cent of overall revenues.

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