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16 May 2014

Activity Decline for CROs, but the Future’s Bright

The number of clinical trials started by leading contract research organisations (CROs) dropped by 50% between 2011 and 2013, according to new research from global pharmaceutical analyst firm Datamonitor Healthcare.


The size of trials handled by CROs also showed a steep decline over the last year, with a 31% reduction in the overall size of the studies carried out.


The results appear to reflect the pharmaceutical industry’s change in emphasis, with drug developers attempting to streamline their pipelines away from more speculative early-stage candidates. The focus is turning to a smaller number of later-stage drug candidates in order to maximise return on investment.


In 2013 CROs tackled 24 later-stage studies of which nine were Phase II and two were Phase I/II, with 11 in Phase III and two in Phase IV. The therapeutic sectors giving the most work to CROs last year were respiratory and dermatology (eight trials), followed by oncology (seven).


Jo Shorthouse, outsourcing editor at Datamonitor Healthcare said: “The pharmaceutical industry is trying to do more with less, and this being a prime example. CROs may be doing fewer trials, but the work they are doing has more depth to it, is more meaningful and more likely to result in effective therapies.


“What we’re seeing is a shift from CROs being little more than hired tradesmen with no true connection to their customers, to an increasingly trusted and closely bound partner. They are now being offered a consultative seat at the table when decisions are being made.”

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