77 per cent of companies surveyed said they expect to rely on outsourcing for clinical research in the next 24 months, while 70 per cent currently use contract research organisations (CROs) for this function. Ernst & Young (E&Y) surveyed 400 biotech company executives in the US, Europe, and Canada, representing a mix of early-stage companies and mature or newly maturing firms - as part of its annual global biotech report released today. As the industry continues to mature, the research showed that clinical development is also an area where companies anticipate significant growth in outsourcing, rising from 56 percent of companies to 71 per cent, the survey revealed. This latest research seems to be echoing the view of some CRO industry players. "The market for CROs has never been better," Joe Herring, Covance's CEO said earlier this year at a JP Morgan conference. "The global spend on R&D by pharmaceutical and biotech companies represents $60bn (€46bn) each year; and 24 per cent of it is outsourced to CROs like Covance." According to Herring, the CROs have managed to develop more business, despite R&D spending just ticking over, for several reasons including the continuous high level of outsourcing usage from biotech companies. "Biologicals represent 50 per cent of all drugs in development so that has been a very good outcome for the CRO industry," explained Herring during the conference held in San Francisco last January. What is more, the E&Y survey revealed that biotech companies will increasingly turn to outsourcing for their sales force. In the last ten years sales force outsourcing to contract sales organisations (CSOs) has caught on as a tactical way for pharmaceutical firms to meet their short-term needs, said a recent report by market analysts Datamonitor. Because sales representative roles are similar throughout the industry, outsourcing this function brings benefits such as efficiency gains, expertise, speed, flexibility and avoiding capital outlay, while still allowing firms to retain in-house control over their proprietary functions such as physician targeting and marketing. And now biotech companies are imitating pharma firms as 16 per cent of biotech companies surveyed by E&Y currently outsource the task and this is expected to jump to 36 per cent within two years. Meanwhile, contract manufacturing is also a popular area for outsourcing as far as biotechs are concerned. 77 per cent of respondents said they were likely to use outsourcing within two years, while 65 per cent are currently relying on contract manufacturers. These findings come on the heels of a recently published research on the US biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing market which showed that biotech companies increasingly rely on outsourcing to improve efficiency and reduce costs. According to the report published by consulting firm HighTech Business Decisions, pharmaceutical and biotech firms are relying more and more on contractors to provide more production capacity and a wider range of services - a trend partly fuelled by the increased demand for biologics. The pharma industry has seen a biotechnology revolution in the past few years and it is estimated that biologics now make up 13 per cent of the total prescription drug sales in the US. With currently more than 400 biologic products in clinical trials and approximately 700 biologics products in pre-clinical or early stage development, there is growing thirst for contract production to support biomanufacturing processes, the HighTech Business research showed. The biotech CEOs survey was part of E&Y's new report: "Beyond Borders - Global Biotechnology Report 2007" released today.