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Parexel's New CIO to Develop Integrated Technology Platform

By Deborah Borfitz 

January 17, 2007 | Boston-based Parexel International, a global bio/pharmaceutical services provider, wants to develop an integrated technology platform for the benefit of clients across the development and commercialization continuum. Chief Information Officer (CIO) Christopher Rieder was recently hired to help make it happen. 

Demand is growing among Parexel's client base for greater online collaboration across ever more complex global clinical development programs, says Rieder, who has more than two decades of IT experience. Many bio/pharmaceutical companies have several interfaces with Parexel, for consulting services, clinical research, and medical communications, as well as a variety of technology solutions offered by its Perceptive Informatics subsidiary.

"We will provide an integrated platform that allows clients to communicate seamlessly and to have greater transparency into their programs and our services," says Rieder. "Having enhanced access to data will allow our clients to make decisions even more proactively and effectively. From a technology perspective, we will assist clients with key aspects of their business, including technology...for adaptive clinical trials and to bring safe and effective treatments to market faster." 

Creation of the CIO position has no connection to the failed TeGenero Phase I drug trial conducted in the UK last spring, says company spokesperson Jennifer Baird. The drug was intended to treat chronic inflammatory conditions and leukemia but instead seriously harmed all six participants. Parexel was exonerated in a subsequent investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the UK medicines watchdog, and vowed to "facilitate access" to a TeGenero insurance policy available to compensate study volunteers. 

Rieder says his overall goal will be ensuring Parexel "continues its success as a customer-centric solution provider, while adding a technology differentiator component to that focus." The publicly traded company operates globally with 54 offices in 40 countries and has more than 6,000 employees. Service revenue for fiscal 2006 was $614.9 million, with a record $1.1 billion in backlog. 

Moving forward, Parexel will be exploring opportunities with outside technology vendors that have a similar customer-centric viewpoint and experience in servicing the bio/pharmaceutical industry, says Rieder. Specifically, it will be looking at "top-tier vendors" that focus on integration, provide single-solution capabilities, and have managed large initiatives "with a global approach." 

Rieder will apply the vendor-based decision processes he gained from his previous experience in managing global IT organizations in the bio/pharmaceutical industry. Most recently, Rieder was vice president of information technology at Kos Pharmaceuticals. He held similar positions at BRI International, a contract research organization (CRO), and at North American Vaccine, a provider of pediatric and adult vaccines. 

A contributing author to a book about maximizing returns on technology investments, published in 2006, Rieder follows "a best practice model that ensures clients are participating in the process from beginning to end, which also results in a high degree of client satisfaction and repeat business." 

Among CROs of all sizes, appointing a CIO or otherwise "elevating IT" is now viewed as a competitive imperative, says Rieder. "CIOs need to take a more corporate point of view versus an operational point of view, and also implement a long-term strategic vision to use technology for greater success in their own businesses as well as for their clients' businesses. They need to ensure that data is more readily available to clients and that technology is flexible, adaptable, and scalable to meet a range of client needs." 

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