UK pharmaceutical companies are leading their US counterparts in IT investment, particularly to meet increasing regulatory compliance requirements. Research commissioned by the newly formed Life Sciences Compliance Forum (LSCF) found that nearly three quarters (72 percent) of UK organisations are deploying IT solutions for compliance with regulations governing pharmaceutical research, manufacture and distribution.

According to Gartner's recent study on US life sciences organisations, "Life science firms do not appear to have much confidence in IT to help them manage compliance. Slightly less than half (46 percent) currently have IT solutions for compliance."

Comparatively, the survey of 150 UK pharmaceutical companies also demonstrated that those companies investing in IT solutions enjoyed better cost control and easier management and access to their data, with over half reporting improved confidence in information integrity.

UK-based pharmaceutical companies need to address multiple regulatory requirements, including UK (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) and European (European Medicines Agency) regulations in addition to those of the US-based Federal Drug Administration.

However the research, carried out in July 2005, found that UK companies were still far from creating a holistic approach to addressing regulatory issues, with no one clear source of guidance on compliance identified by those surveyed. The top three options for implementation of compliance solutions included application support (56 percent), application integration (50 percent) and outsourcing (47 percent).

"Regulatory compliance is the number one driver for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries," commented Lars Davies, chairman, Life Sciences Compliance Forum. "While UK companies need to ensure compliance with a wide range of requirements, our research shows that those deploying IT systems are already reaping the business benefits of improved confidence in information. Companies do need a holistic approach to compliance - this is why the LSCF has been launched to promote best practice in this area."

The Life Sciences Compliance Forum has been launched to promote education, training, information and networking opportunities to life sciences organisations investing in new technologies to meet regulatory compliance.

According to Gartner, "With the possible exception of financial services, no other industry has so many regulations to worry about. Given this experience with regulations, life science firms should exhibit some of the best practices for maintaining their companies in a state of regulatory compliance in a cost-effective manner."

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