Book Reviews

Book Review - Project Management for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Project Management for the Pharmaceutical Industry

by Laura Brown and Tony Grundy

Reviewer: Paul Butler

The targets for this book, as stated in the Preface, include senior and middle management engaged in strategic projects and ‘pharmaceutical professionals managing projects within their own roles’. This would appear to cover all types of projects within a pharmaceutical environment but, in fact, the book concentrates on two very different types – clinical trials and strategic business development. There is very little about the many other types of projects typically handled within pharmaceutical companies. It is unfortunate that the title does not make it clear that such a narrow field of projects is addressed in the book.


The backgrounds of the two authors, the one being a Clinical Trials expert and the other a Management Consultant, are very apparent throughout the book. There is very little connection between the two different types of project that are the main subjects of the book. This is typified in the penultimate chapter ‘Project Management Checklists and Cost-management Project Case Study’. This contains a very detailed and excellent Checklist for Multicentre Clinical Research Trials’ that would be a wonderful tool for any manager organising such a trial.

The remainder of the chapter deals with the totally different requirements for what are described as ‘Organic Business Development Projects’ and ‘Organisational Change Projects’, as well as ‘Checklists for Acquisitions and Alliances (Joint Venture) Projects. The final sets of checklists are ‘Checklists for Operational Projects’, but these are then divided into ‘Operations expansion’ and ‘Cost management and efficiency’. The subject of ‘Operations expansion’ merits less than half a page, despite being one of the commonest type of project in the industry.

The section on Cost Management, whilst of interest to a small number of financial managers, would be of little interest or relevance to production, quality management, clinical trial, or engineering management, who constitute the majority of management within the pharma industry.

The earlier chapters of the book give clear and excellent descriptions of the many tools now available for defining and managing projects. Many of these are relevant to almost all types of projects (and not only in the pharmaceutical industry). The danger with having so many tools is determining which ones to apply to a particular project, and this is not really described in any detail. Again, because the book only really describes two types of project, and the tools described are largely relevant to business development projects rather than clinical trials management, the objectives of the book seem very confused.

This book would be best split into two completely separate volumes. There is an obvious need for a good textbook for aspiring Clinical Trials Managers, but this is not that book. From the relevant sections in this book, it is apparent that Laura Brown has the knowledge and experience to write such a book. Her section in Chapter 3 “Defining Pharmaceutical Projects” on the selection and contracting of CROs is very comprehensive, and clearly shows her experience in running this type of project.

Similarly, there is probably a niche market for a good book on managing business development projects, and, from his bibliography and cv, Tony Grundy should be able to write this. Let us hope that any future corroborative efforts between these two will be better coordinated and targeted to a more specific readership.

Reviewed by Paul Butler, a pharmaceutical consultant at PJB Pharma Consulting Services.

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Published by Gower Publishing, UK, 2011

Price: £65

298pp hardback

ISBN: 978-1-4094-1894-8