Pegasystems is making an official push into the life sciences. While the company has been quietly designing custom business process management software for drug-development clients since 2005, it is now pulling those offerings into a vertical.
According to Melonie Warfel, Pegasystems’ new life sciences division director and formerly director of life sciences management for Adobe Systems, the company’s foray into life sciences began with one big pharmaceutical client. Though Pegasystems, a 26-year-old company based in Cambridge, Mass., was known primarily for its work in financial services, insurance and the payer side of health care, the pharma company approached it about designing a grants-management solution. The client stayed with Pegasystems, requesting it to design business process solutions for other functions. A handful of other pharma companies then signed on with Pegasystems. Within five years, the company had implemented 40 systems to streamline functions along various parts of the drug development process.
As a result, Pegasystems was able to build expertise in the business processes that work best for adverse-event reporting, product registration/portfolio management, investigator research proposals and site management.
“They saw the success of what we were doing in life sciences, and they said we need to really focus on the vertical. We need to build frameworks that support the CDISC integrated object model and some of the new ICH guidelines coming out,” Warfel said.
Now Pegasystems is targeting the top 50 pharma companies and CROs. One key selling point, said Warfel, is that the company can pull information from all other systems already being used by a drug-development client (for example, an Oracle clinical trials management system and Documentum for documents, etc.) into one portal so it’s all available in one place.
“You don’t have to log in, then log out, then log in again to see all this information,” Warfel said. “We gather information from all disparate database systems into one system. This enables stakeholders to see what they need to see to make decisions fast.”
Also unique, said Warfel, is that Pegasystems builds solutions by inputting end points before anything else. “When we get ready to build solutions, we start by putting objectives in,” she explained. “What are you hoping to achieve? We start with that and everything else flows from it. Then just the push of a few buttons drives the documentation.”
She added that Pegasystems is working on solutions for creating protocols that could, in the end, make the traditionally complicated and harried process much easier and quicker. While offering such esoteric, high-end functions, Warfel said Pegasystems can also help cut costs for pharma companies by taking over more mundane tasks such as managing all correspondence among the sponsor and sites, CROs, CRAs and other parties. The key, of course, is in going electronic.
“One small pharma company I know told me it spends $500,000 a year on FedEx alone,” said Warfel. “And I heard one big pharma company say it spends $25 million a year on couriers. That just doesn’t have to be.”
Warfel said the time is right to market business process management—or BPM—to the drug-development arena.
“People are starting to get the BPM bug, hiring people and giving them titles like ‘business process improvement owner’” she said. “It’s resonating perfectly in a clinical space.”
-– Suz Redfearn