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The Article Galaxy Blog

The “On-Demand” Trend is Gaining Traction in Pharma and Biotech

Lettie Y. Conrad|Product & Publishing Consultant
Lettie Y. Conrad|Product & Publishing Consultant
August 21, 2020
2 min read

In 2007, Netflix disrupted the video rental industry with the introduction of its streaming service—allowing people to watch movies and TV shows on demand, 24/7. In 2009, Uber disrupted the transportation industry with its "peer-to-peer ride-sharing" service—leveraging a limitless pool of gig workers to provide convenient transportation at the touch of a button. Today, the availability of on-demand services has exploded across industries—from meal delivery providers like GrubHub and Postmates to freelance labor platforms like UpWork and TaskRabbit.

Regardless of the service provided, the core benefits of the on-demand model are the same: they fill a need quickly, while allowing customers to pay only for what they need.

Today, biotech and pharmaceutical companies have started to embrace a similar model, to help control R&D costs and improve project efficiency. Two examples of which are:

CRO Services: Increasingly, pharma and biotech companies are outsourcing portions of their drug development processes to clinical research organizations (CROs). Indeed, according to a 2019 report by Clearwater International, the value of the global CRO market is forecast to reach €40bn by 2022, with its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) set to accelerate to 12% by the same year. The report cites three key factors for the increased use of CRO services:

  • to reduce R&D expenditure,
  • to address increasing complexity of drugs and clinical trials,
  • and to optimize time and efficiency.

A biotech firm with limited staff, for example, may decide to hire a CRO with expertise in a particular area, like navigating regulatory processes. Rather than bogging down in-house staff with complex processes for which they lack expertise, they can pick and choose highly qualified CROs—in an on-demand capacity. In so doing, they can accelerate the drug development lifecycle and optimize outcomes, while freeing up their own scientists to focus on research.

On-Demand Literature Access: Research librarians and knowledge management professionals who want to improve their literature management strategies can take advantage of on-demand services as well. The emergence of content aggregators offers researchers convenient, centralized access to a broader range of peer-reviewed content—significantly reducing the time required to search and locate relevant content. On-demand document delivery (i.e. automated, instant delivery of articles discovered through content databases) has been shown to accelerate article acquisition workflows by 50 percent, while significantly reducing acquisition costs. (To learn more, read The ROI of Document Delivery white paper.)

Whether pharma and biotech companies are using CROs to manage a specific portion of a project—or content aggregators to instantly access journal articles—the core benefits are the same as those gained through other on-demand services to fill a need quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

The role of scholarly publishers in on-demand literature access

Even before the introduction of content aggregation and on-demand document delivery, many scholarly publishers were offering tokens, which can be seen as a precursor to the on-demand trend. A 2014 article in EdTechTimes offers this background on the token model:

"This is a very straightforward model dating back to the late 1990s. The publisher offers a package of tokens for a fixed fee and the library and its patrons draw down on a fixed account of tokens as they access individual articles and at their leisure with no period or term of usage."

Now, many publishers are going a step further to support demand—partnering with content aggregators to help give researchers and librarians more options for accessing peer-reviewed content. At Research Solutions, for example, our service is strengthened through partnerships with all the major scholarly publishers. Reciprocally, our on-demand document delivery platform accommodates an organization's existing publisher tokens.

As pharma and biotech companies look for ways to accelerate research, cut costs, and stay ahead of the competition, the emergence—and adoption—of on-demand services has the potential to transform R&D efficiency.

For more information on how Article Galaxy can help you with your immediate and timely scientific literature needs, contact us.

The Author

    Lettie Y. Conrad|Product & Publishing Consultant

Lettie brings nearly 20 years’ experience in scholarly publishing to her diverse portfolio of product research and development projects. She is dedicated to helping information organizations cultivate a user-centered, standards-compliant approach to digital publishing and academic programs. Her expertise lies in optimizing user engagement for content discovery and access of academic content platforms. Previously, Lettie played a key role in establishing the product management program at SAGE Publishing. Currently, Lettie is North American Editor for Learned Publishing, a ‘chef’ with the SSP’s Scholarly Kitchen blog, and Information Science PhD candidate at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.


scholarly publishers, Pharma Biotech, librarians clinical, research organizations, on-demand, literature access

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