Curing Remote Access Ills

Lev Pharmaceuticals taps two solutions providers to overcome its workflow pains.

As part of its efforts to combat the potentially life-threatening and consistently painful hereditary angioedema, Lev Pharmaceuticals needed a sophisticated IT solution that included secure and consistent remote access to the Internet and the companys databases, as well as a sophisticated workflow setup to track, monitor and secure patient and research information.

Lev Pharmaceuticals acquired the patents for the C1-esterase inhibitor—or C1-INH, a human plasma protein that mediates inflammation—from a nonprofit organization in Amsterdam that has been offering the medication in the Netherlands for 30 years.

Lev Pharmaceuticals had entered a Phase III clinical trial, which involved tracking and monitoring the health information of patients around the country. Yet the six-person startup had no dedicated IT resources to support its ambitious workflow and remote access solution.

Initially, it seemed unlikely that Lev Pharmaceuticals would be able to find a single source to meet its need for disparate yet complementary technologies, according to Doug Beck, chief financial officer of the New York-based biopharmaceutical company.

After all, VARs proficient in workflow and scanning solutions are seldom equally expert in remote access and networking, said Beck.

While attending an accounting show in New York, Beck met Gary Loew, president of Champion Workflow Systems, and Steve Ferman, president of Compunite Computers, who were sharing a booth at the trade show.

Together, Champion Workflow, which specializes in workflow and scanning solutions, and Compunite, which focuses on networking, Web services and managed solutions, seemed the perfect fit for Lev Pharmaceuticals needs, said Beck.

The two solution providers, which both have offices in Pine Brook, N.J., have worked together on many client installations since they first partnered in 1997, said Loew. And the partnership is so seamless that, from the outside looking in, the arrangement appears to be a single organization, Beck said.

One hiccup in Lev Pharmaceuticals potential contract with Compunite was its expiring contract with another Web services provider. The ISP, loathe to lose Lev Pharmaceuticals contract, was unwilling to cooperate with Compunite, Beck recalled.

"[The old company] couldnt provide the right end-to-end solution for us," Beck said. "[But they were] a little reluctant to give us up as a client. Compunite was very persistent about getting all the information they needed to make the migration smooth. They didnt do it piecemeal. They made the migration very quickly. With all our remote locations, we had to do it all in one day. And they did."

Once the network access was in place, Beck turned his attention to the masses of paper surrounding the companys Phase III clinical trials of patients around the country. Ferman recommended Champion Workflow.

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Having already seen Champion Workflows system in action at the trade show, Beck said he conducted further research by interviewing other VARs that offered solutions designed to help companies comply with regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act.

Champion Workflow came out on top because of its technological knowledge and the relationship it had with Compunite, Beck said.

To ensure data safety and security—and to allow access to all authorized personnel, no matter what their location or device—Compunite centrally located Lev Pharmaceuticals information at the headquarters in New York, created an automatic daily backup solution and set itself up to manage the entire network remotely.

"Steves people [at Compunite] are the technical experts who Doug relies on [at Lev Pharmaceuticals]," said Loew.

The strong partnership between Compunite and Champion Workflow is a major reason why Lev Pharmaceuticals was able to outsource its IT operations, said Ferman.

Indeed, the two companies have considered taking their partnership a step further.

"There was even talk about merging our companies, but it didnt make any sense for us to delve further into it," Ferman said. "We thought, Why should we mess up a good thing?"

Instead, the two solution providers continue to work independently, yet together. If, for example, a client calls with a question about the other companys area of expertise, each solution provider merely transfers the call to the other—just like a larger company would do interdepartmentally, Ferman said.

Compunite and Champion Workflow also are extremely flexible in how they interact with each other and their clients. Certainly, with Lev Pharmaceuticals, the solution providers partnership has helped it achieve its goal—and Beck expects the duo to continue to do so well into the future.

"If we have to change at a moments notice, we can always rely on their resources to give us advice, and, if we do expand, they have the resources to [implement them]," said Beck. "I explained where we want to be in a few years. They listened to us. Theyre there when we need them."

Alison Diana is a freelance writer in Meritt Island, Fla. Contact her at

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