Management consulting, outsourcing and technology services specialist Accenture has signed a global outsourcing agreement with Eisai Medical Research, under which Accenture will provide Eisai with clinical data management services through its delivery centre in Chennai, India.

This marks the first time a major Japanese pharmaceutical company has farmed out clinical data management services as a business process outsourcing function to India, the two companies noted. Full operations started in Chennai on 13 February following a three-week trial period.

The agreement covers Japan, the United States and Europe, and will include the collection, processing, preparation for analysis and archiving of clinical trial data. It is part of a wider effort at Eisai to standardise its clinical data management process, so that the company can better deliver safe and effective medicines to patients worldwide, the partners pointed out, citing the Chennai centre’s concentration of resources, expertise and relevant technology.

In future, they added, Eisai plans to extend the outsourcing initiative to electronic data capture, with a view to enhancing the efficiency and timeliness of data collection and reporting.

Under a ‘transformation strategy’ designed to shift some of the company’s main operational functions to areas with quality technology and high potential for cost-effectiveness, Eisai broke ground for a manufacturing and research subsidiary, Eisai Pharmatechnology & Manufacturing Private Limited, in Andrha Pradesh state, south India last December. Operations at this site are scheduled to kick off in 2010.

In September 2005, Eisai became the first Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturer to establish a wholly owned subsidiary (Eisai India Pharmaceuticals Pvt) in India.

Opening a regional clinical research centre in Singapore last December, Eisai pointed out that the Asia Pacific region now accounted for almost 56% of the world’s population, 25% of its gross national product and 22% of its trade. Moreover, the company noted, “current trends indicate that the next centre of gravity for the global pharmaceutical market will be in Asia, with China, India and Singapore being the key countries”.

The agreement with Accenture is another step towards the realisation of its transformation strategy, Eisai said. The arrangement is expected to enhance the company’s capabilities in global research and development, cut its operational costs and shorten development timelines.

Accenture has a global network of more than 40 delivery centres, including the Chennai operation set up at the beginning of 2005. This centre has since expanded rapidly: the staff count at Chennai rose from 1,100 to more than 3,000 just over the last year.

The company’s outsourced services in the healthcare sector including clinical data management, statistical analysis and medical writing. In September 2007, Accenture built on an existing partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb to launch a joint pharmacovigilance centre in Chennai.