Interview with Dr Ripal Gharia, Principal Consultant & Vice President – Global Pharmacovigilance, Medical & Regulatory Affairs

What do you see as trends of cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry?

There is increasing trend of Co-operation in Pharmaceutical Industry currently. In this world of globalization, it comes off naturally. Increase in small and midsize service providers and startups have made it possible to acquire desired skill set across the globe at affordable prices.

How has your background prepared you for business development?

I have started my career from an R&D organisation, which provided me with in-depth knowledge of drug development, including formulation designing and analytical chemistry. Being an expert from a medical background, it was a unique experience to understand the dynamics of the manufacturing process, which helps in understanding deciding factors in success or failure of a study and requirement of specific skill set/criteria to drive a specific clinical development program. My work in Pharmaceutical companies helped me to understand the dynamics of brand development, patent laws and Sponsor’s overview on outsourcing. My experience in CRO industry equipped me with in-depth knowledge of various facets of clinical research like medical writing, clinical trial operations, project management and pharmacovigilance as well as team management, costings and proposals. Overall, my background in operations provided me lots of insights for pertinent business development.

How can networking between pharmaceutical companies be improved?

Use of various social media platforms like LinkedIn and attending various virtual/in-person conferences. Some knowledge groups like DIA, RQA or RAPS are also helpful.

How do you see the importance of virtual networking platforms for business development in the pharmaceutical industry?

In the era of globalization, virtual networking platforms are a new reality. They connect talents across the globe and move things in a positive direction. People can know each other in a better manner and there can be mutual utilisation of skill sets.

What value added services do you see as most important for Business Development and Alliance Management functions?

Use of tools like HubSpot, calendly or zoom. Initiatives like Clora also helps.

What is your opinion on the evolvement of the pharmaceutical industry in the last 6 months? How will it shape up in the future?

In the last 6 months, due to various challenges, like Corona Pandemic, the entire world has come closer, perceived barriers like geographies and cities have been broken. Distance working and co-existence across remotely located teams has become a reality. Co-location is not compulsion now. It will definitely boost global product development and exchange of ideas amongst scientists.

What are the therapeutic areas that will be a trendsetter in coming years?

Oncology, Preventive Medicines, Neutraceuticals

How will global sourcing strategies evolve?

Skill sets and talent will take front seat followed by cost. Overall expenses of drug development will reduce due to increased outsourcing in developing nations having talented people in lesser budgets.

Looking at a new market, how would you go about it?

Starting with small and then expanding.

What are ways to identify a new market to enter?

Market research, data analytics and insights from experts.

What are the most important aspects in pharmaceutical business development?

Experience, knowledge and detail orientation.

Describe the process you would follow for business development

Business development is an art, most important aspect is relationship development.

What partnerships do you think would be beneficial for your company?

Any like-minded companies who would like to trust entrepreneurs without border restrictions.

What is your preferred strategy for finding business partners?

Judicious use of LinkedIn and similar platforms.

What do you consider as most important indicators before closing a deal?

Mutual trust of capabilities of teams.

What are the three most important factors when evaluating a deal?

Flexibility in approach, sustainability and transparency.

How would you keep in touch with existing customers?

Periodically providing them important updates regarding the field.

How do you prioritize your meetings with clients?

As per client requirement.

Have you ever walked out on a deal and why?

Yes. When someone really wants your expertise for very less budget, which compels you to compromise your quality.

Have you ever lost an opportunity to do business with an important partner? Why and what did you learn?

Due to new in market. Patience is the key. When you can’t meet the bureaucratic criteria like number of years of company establishment and whatnot, it is better to wait.

What should we do more often and to engage our employees constantly?

Make them partner in important decisions. Know what they want for their long term career goals and help them to achieve it.

How do you motivate your team to get the best out of deals for your company?

Positivism is the key. When every employee feels like a brand ambassador for your company, you are going to succeed.

Would you like to tell us something more? Some comments?

Quality is the key to establish yourself in any field. And quality can be achieved only with in-depth knowledge, hard work and experience. No advertisement strategy or marketing campaign can beat it.

Dr Ripal Gharia
Principal Consultant & Vice President – Global Pharmacovigilance, Medical & Regulatory Affairs

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