Over the last decade the number of multi-centre clinical trials in the Central and Eastern Europe region has been growing on average at an annual rate of 30 per cent and this growth is expected to continue.
Analysts Frost & Sullivan predict year-on-year growth for the European CRO market of 10.4 per cent up to 2007, when it will be worth an estimated $4.3 bn (€3.5 bn), primarily driven by the increasing attractiveness of Eastern Europe to drug developers in both the US and Western Europe.
Last week, leading CRO >Covance further expanded its presence in the region, opening a new clinical development office in Prague, Czech Republic.
The company, which already has existing clinical development offices in Warsaw, Poland and Budapest, Hungary, will use the new Prague office to support further clinical trial operations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"We predicted and have seen the growth of Central and Eastern Europe as a region in which to perform clinical trials, because of its clinical trial infrastructure, suitable patient populations and medical expertise in a number and variety of indications", said Dr. Alan Wood, general manager, Europe and Asia-Pacific for Covance Clinical and Periapproval Services.
Meanwhile UK firm >Synexus Clinical Research has just bought Polish clinical trials company Skandynawskie Centrum Medyczne (SCM) - its first acquisition since joining AIM in November 2005.
The company plans to use this acquisition "as a stepping stone to exploit growing opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe and further expand both through organic growth and further acquisitions," said Michael Fort, chief executive of Synexus.
The SCM deal also brings contracts with a number of customers in the pharmaceutical industry, who are not currently customers of Synexus, in addition to licences to open further centres in Poland and in neighbouring Ukraine.
The acquisition follows the company's strategy of expansion through selective acquisitions, concentrating on Synexus' core activity of patient recruitment for later stage clinical trials, with particular focus on the exploitation of growing opportunities for clinical trials and patient recruitment in emerging economies.
Last month Synexus entered India's burgeoning clinical research market, setting up the country's first patient-recruitment site management organisation (SMO) with IRL, a subsidiary of the Indian Clinical Research Institute.