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Specialist ECG firms preferred to big CROs, survey finds

By Nick Taylor , 14-Dec-2011
Last updated on 14-Dec-2011 at 12:43 GMT

Biopharm companies prefer outsourcing ECG work to specialist service providers than large CROs, an industry survey found.

In the electrocardiogram (ECG) service sector specialist companies compete against large and mid-tier CROs (contract research organisations). Despite the vendor consolidation trend in clinical trials survey results suggest niche players are the preferred outsourcing partner for biopharm companies.

The pharmaceutical decision-makers we spoke to indicated they don’t usually use the same service provider on a study for both ECG services and clinical operations and they prefer to use a specialised ECG provider”, Andrew Schafer, president of Industry Standard Research (ISR), said.

More than half of the 79 respondents said they prefer to outsource work to specialist cardiac safety companies. In contrast, close to a quarter of respondents favour outsourcing to large full-service CROs. Mid-tier CROs and academic medical centres were preferred by one-fifth of respondents.

An earlier survey by ISR found a similar trend in Phase I, with specialist players winning business against their big name rivals. Schafer noted this similarity and said “the ECG market is one of the more fascinating we have explored recently”.

Satisfaction

The popularity of specialist service providers means in three-fifths of clinical trials different vendors are used for ECG work and other study tasks. However, there is a lack of satisfaction data to support this decision.

Schafer said: “In aggregate, respondents rated the performance of the multi-service CROs on par with the specialized ECG providers.” In both cases close to 30 per cent of respondents said they are very satisfied with their ECG vendor. More respondents were very dissatisfied with specialist providers.

Improving performance could help service providers gain an edge in a market with limited scope for increased outsourcing penetration. Nearly 70 per cent of ECG studies are now outsourced, the survey found, and respondents expect little growth over the next 18 months.

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