In its biggest event to date, the Pharmaceutical Users Software Exchange 2014 was a great success for all involved. The focus this year on data transparency gave us some interesting points to reflect on. We took a look back on the topics covered at PhUSE and raise some of the key points that we were able to gain.
Myself and other biometrics recruitment specialists from ProClinical attended the event at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in London to stay up to date with industry developments and network with a broad range of professionals working in biometrics jobs. Now in its 10th year, the PhUSE annual conference has grown from a statistical programmer's specific event, to a gathering of all data professionals in the pharmaceutical industry, including data managers, statisticians, PK/PD specialists and health outcome and economics specialists. From some of the fascinating presentations given by keynote speakers, including Pierre Mayeur – Chair of PhUSE (pictured), and the general feeling among biometrics professionals that we spoke to, here are what we felt the main talking points were at the conference:
Openness of trial data
Data transparency underpinned the majority of keynote presentations at PhUSE, highlighting the importance of sharing trial data into the public domain even if a trial is not successful. The benefit being that less time is wasted on similar products by different companies, ultimately reducing the cost for new drugs by avoiding repetition of the same drug development processes. Many companies and professionals applaud this. It not only saves time and money, but it also opens avenues for smaller companies and start-ups to see where things didn’t work and how they could turn things around.
Skills shortage of SAS programmers
Throughout the conference it became apparent that there is a strong and consistent need for SAS programmers among employers in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. Although there are a number pharmaceutical SAS jobs available, many SAS programmers are reluctant to leave their current role. This is also the case even for those who are contracting, with some consultants in the same role for 10 years! Employers are looking to do a number of things, some offering flexible working arrangements, i.e. condensed working weeks and the flexibility of working remotely, and some are going as far as to offer signing on bonuses and relocation packages as incentives to candidates.
During the talks a big push was made on the importance of Mobile Health (mhealth) being the future of clinical drug development. Moving forward, mobile phones and other consumer electronic devices could be used to capture data relating to an individual. This could relate to blood sugar levels, steps taken and blood pressure, for example. It would give wider scope to clinical trials and add real-life value to their findings. A lot of people are looking forward to this as it could help to cut out some preliminary steps towards clinical trials and many leading organisations are already putting plans in place to implement this technology.
From Pharma to CRO
It is apparent that many biometrics, SAS and data managers are being outsourced away from Pharma, moving instead to clinical research organisations and consultancies. CROs and consultancies are making a big push in this regard and a number of professionals are now choosing to work in this way. Pharmaceutical companies are leading this type of outsourcing, meaning that many professionals have no choice but to seek employment from CROs or consultancies. Due to the nature of the market, some contractors might struggle to find work or be forced into taking a permanent position, because this is what most pharmaceutical companies and CROs are offering.
Please comment below to tell us your thoughts. We would love to hear what else you learnt at PhUSE or what you think of the impressions that we gained at the conference.