The two contract research organizations (CROs) spoke at the J P Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco with both predicting gains for the big six.
Parexel – which earlier this week increased its forecast for the quarter – said it expects drug industry R&D spending to increase by between 2 and 3% in the medium term and that a greater proportion of this would go to larger contractors.
The firm expects this spending growth to be driven by small and mid-sized sponsors, rather than Big Pharma firms like Pfizer with which it has an established strategic deal. It also predicted that companies in Asia and the developing world will become more important.
This increasing global spread will mean that having good IT systems will become critical to success according to Parexel, which it thinks will be good news for its tech arm Perceptive Informatics.
Irish rival Icon was similarly upbeat during its JP Morgan presentation, forecasting that the top six CROs would soon command a 50% share of the biopharmaceutical industry development spending, equivalent to $16.5bn.
Like Parexel, Icon also expects outsourcing penetration to increase over the next few years and predicts that as a whole the CRO sector will be the focus of between 40 to 50% of all drug industry development dollars (or Euros delete as appropriate).
Icon also set out its intention to expand globally – suggesting it also sees customers in emerging markets as being increasingly important going forward – and underlined that it is on the lookout for acquisition opportunities.
Also, in an echo of its comments in 2012 , Icon predicted that the CRO sector would see further consolidation this year.