The Asia Pacific region is poised to witness heightened activity in terms of outsourced drug development to contract research organisations (CROs), with India and China remaining the preferred destinations.
Recent estimates by Frost & Sullivan have determined that Asian CROs conducting Phase I-IV research earned revenues of $1.2bn in 2006, with the figure expected to reach $2bn in the next two years.
This ties in with a report by market research firm Research and Markets, where it was predicted that outsourcing spending by biopharma firms across all phases of pharmaceutical development is projected to increase in Asia in the next one to two years, with the quantum of increase for phase II, phase III, and phase IV trial budgets likely to be higher than preclinical and phase I budgets.
Meanwhile, the report also found that over the next two years, urology and musculoskeletal/arthritis are expected to be the most outsourced research areas.
"The potential for CROs lies in expanding their strengths in musculoskeletal/arthritis and urology and maintaining capabilities in oncology, cardiovascular, dermatology, and gastroenterology", the company said.
In India, outsourcing largely takes place between Phases II-IV, and interactive voice response systems (IVRS) as well as medical diagnostics are the services that are outsourced the most.
The country's low cost base, large treatment naïve patient pool, and command of English are the major attractions here.
While cardiovascular, central nervous system (CNS) and metabolic diseases are the research areas that are currently the most outsourced, oncology is likely to show an increase in outsourcing in the next two years, predicted Research and Markets.
Meanwhile, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and to a lesser degree, South Korea and Japan, are among the other countries in the Asia Pacific tipped by Research and Markets to experience an increase in the number of CRO-conducted clinical trials.
With regard to Japan, South Korea, and Australia, diseases affecting the CNS are likely to be among the most outsourced research areas, with Japan also likely to attract studies in the additional therapeutic areas of allergy/respiratory, pain management, and dermatology.
The report is titled: "Contract Research Organization Market - What Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Companies Want."