CROs vital to flaging drug pipelines

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Clinical trials, Pharmaceutical industry, Pharmacology, Food and drug administration

Drug companies are leaning more heavily on contract research
organisations (CROs) to save costs in getting new drugs to market.
And it is paying off, with added benefits. Companies who rely on
CROs are also completing clinical trials faster, according to a
recent study from Tufts University.

Dry pipelines, escalating R&D costs, low product success rates, blockbusters few and far between. All these factors paint a grim picture of the state of the pharma industry and explain why companies are turning to CROs to reduce R&D costs.

Since 2001, spending by pharma and biotech companies on CRO services has grown 15 per cent annually, outpacing the 9 per cent annual increase on overall development spending.

But CROs are now proving themselves as more than just cost-cutting service providers, the report confirms.

In addition to achieving cost savings, drug companies that rely on CROs tend to complete clinical trials faster while still maintaining high quality standards. This is true even in the case of larger, more complex trials.

In addition companies who relied on CROs for clinical trials submitted their data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more than 30 days closer to the scheduled time than those who did not.

However, while achieving cost-and time-savings are crucial contributions to the industry, CROs have even more to offer.

CROs are also freeing up resources within drug or biotech firms, enabling them to expand their internal development capacity without having to increase the size of their staff or facilities.

Between 2001 and 2004, headcount among major CROs grew 6 per cent annually while project-sponsor headcount remained flat, the report found.

The benefits of outsourcing to CROs all combine to help drive drug pipeline growth by increasing the speed and efficiency of the industry's product-development pipeline.

The study was based on an analysis of 83 new drug applications and biologic license applications submitted to the FDA between 2000 and 2005 in addition to 31 interviews with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies of varying sizes and data gathered from 16 sponsor companies and 10 CROs.

It was commissioned by the >Association of Clinical Research Organizations​ (ACRO), which represents some of the world's leading CROs, and carried out by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. A copy of the report can be found on their >Website.

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