A High-Stakes Game of Pharmaceutical Twister™

Case Studies Integration Life Sciences Process

When a global pharmaceutical company (Pharma A) purchased a therapeutic drug that was still in clinical trials (Drug X) from a smaller competitor (Pharma B), which was simultaneously being acquired by a third, larger competitor (Pharma C), it was as if disparate players had entered a high-stakes game of pharmaceutical Twister. To connect the dots, transition the trials, and keep more than 24 internal teams coordinated during a fixed nine-month timeframe, Pharma A turned to its friends at Future State.

Both feet on the ground and all fingers crossed

Our client’s competitor (Pharma C) had acquired all of the assets of the smaller pharma (Pharma B) except the drug in question. To facilitate the transfer of the clinical trials, our client had negotiated several Transition Service Agreements (TSAs) with Pharma B. According to these TSAs, Pharma B would execute specific tasks related to the transition and continue to operate the clinical trials until our client was ready to take over. However, our client had to pay for these TSA services, and they were expensive.

Given the expense, our client wanted to run the clinical trials independently as soon as possible. Time was precious, and they needed a partner who was already up to speed on the complexities of local and global CRO relationships, country requirements, functional roles and cross-functional interdependencies, regulatory filings, and more.

That partner was Future State.

Partner Integrations

Move the right foot forward

Having worked with our team previously, Pharma A onboarded Future State before the legal dealings involving the Federal Trade Commission were complete. When we started working with leadership, our client was still negotiating and waiting for “day one” when they could begin interacting with the other pharmaceutical companies. We used this time to get the project started on the right foot.

Following the motto, “escalate risk early and often,” our team organized a cross-functional workshop that brought Pharma A integration and functional team leads into the room. While we carefully selected participants and designed the agenda, the activities had an ad-hoc feel to encourage brainstorming. Using Post-It Notes, participants identified roadblocks, the resources needed, and co-created an overall transition timeline. A graphic recorder listened to their conversations and mapped what success would look like. At the end of the workshop, the leaders left with a high-level timeline, a clear project-management approach, and a goal statement for the overall project.

Piecing the road to success during integrations

And freeze

Because of the complexities surrounding the acquisition, day one was delayed by about a month. But we remained flexible, working with our client to make meaningful progress behind the scenes. When the day one integration workshop finally arrived, we’d already met with functional sub-leads to identify the integration milestone decisions that would be required and organized them sequentially.

With clear functional milestones and goals in hand, we brought 120 team members from Pharma A and B into the same room for the first time for a three-day workshop. During the workshop, much of the magic happened around multiple oversized wall charts representing the cross-functional milestones for studies and countries, as well as an oversized wall chart that we dubbed the “big nuggets,” where guiding principles and key decisions were visualized. Working collectively, participants made decisions that would allow everyone to move forward with velocity. For example, the team decided that because Pharma B already had effective vendor qualification measures in place, Pharma A would accept those existing metrics and related decisions rather than re-qualifying vendors that were new to Pharma A. Seemingly small decisions like this reaped significant time savings within the overall schedule.

Integrations and cross-functional alignment

And the winner is?

The well-orchestrated integration workshop set the foundation for a successful program, and, over the course of project, Future State provided comprehensive portfolio management support, never losing sight of the people experiencing the transition. By creating a cloud-based integrated milestone plan for each of the study categories, we also brought visibility to this very complex integration, allowing leads to quickly see interdependencies and mitigate areas of risk to the timeline, resources, or budget.

The project was completed within the nine-month timeframe despite the initial delay, which was a clear win for everyone.

Integration success