The study, commissioned by Quest Pharmaceutical Services (QPS) and conducted by SCORR Marketing, reveals what has long been known within the outsourcing industry. Cost efficiency coupled with quality work are most attractive to the client. Secondary considerations include the CRO's timeliness in scheduling, meeting timelines, and executing overall turnaround, as well as its responsiveness in communicating with scientific personnel, business development and project managers. In addition, CRO decision-makers clearly articulated the importance of service quality, priority setting and the ability for rapid, effective problem solving in service provider selection. Other important CRO attributes include resources to handle the job, location of laboratories, quality of reports, flexibility as study progresses (and potentially changes), and history of prior relationship. "It's crucial to QPS that we have a clear picture of what is important to our current and future clients, which is why we undertook this study," says Ben Chien, President and CEO of QPS, which have headquarters in Delaware and laboratories elsewhere in the US and Taiwan. "And knowing our clients' perceptions, preferences, and habits enhances our ability to meet their evolving needs and to earn us consideration when they are making their outsourcing decisions," he added. Drug development times, especially the clinical phase, have almost tripled in the last four decades - as a result, the average cost of developing a new drug has been skyrocketing and is now said to be as high as $1bn (€0.8bn) and expected to reach $1.9bn by 2013. Meanwhile, the numbers of new drugs have not significantly increased despite new technology advances and investments. In a bid to cope, pharma firms have been increasingly outsourcing many aspects of their drug development and as a result the CRO industry is now thriving, with new companies regularly springing up to take advantage of the business boom. Members of the SCORR team have conducted numerous assessments of and for pharmaceutical and biotech companies over the last 15 years. The QPS report released today was based on in-depth interviews with a random sampling of US industry experts. "When all things are equal, price becomes the weighing mechanism for many buying decisions," said Cinda Orr, President of SCORR. "Differentiation is best achieved by meeting the real challenge in the CRO industry: developing flexible, knowledgeable science delivered with impeccable service and responsive communication."