The growth - up eight per cent year-on-year – is the result of a growing demand for the wider range of services now offered by contract sales organisations (CSOs).
Services offered in market access strategy and assisting patient compliance were all listed as new “sources of revenue” for the vendors.
Medical education services was listed as a particularly promising submarket. The analysts wrote “In 2011, medical education services accounted for only a small share of the contract sales market – with worldwide revenue totalling $161m.”
However the researchers say education services are among the “fastest growing sectors”, and that CSOs take up the largest chunk of contracts with pharma firms.
Richard Lang, pharmaceutical industry analyst for visiongain, said: "Pharmaceutical sales models are changing rapidly. Healthcare payers have greater influence in prescribing decisions, complicating market access strategies for pharmaceutical companies.
“CSOs are expanding beyond traditional sales services to meet demand for market access expertise from pharmaceutical partners.”
The study showed that the US and Europe currently accounts for the largest section of the market, taking up over 75 per cent of it in 2011.
However, visiongain says Western firms' increasing presence in emerging countries will boost contract sales in those regions.
Lang added: “Market leaders, such as inVentiv Health, Quintiles and United Drug, already operate on a global scale. Recently these companies made advances into emerging markets, establishing offices in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
“Outsourcing will provide local expertise in market access and sales models. Fast growth is forecast for all four of the BRIC nations, in terms of contract sales, to 2023."