The new organisation – named the Asia CRO Alliance (ACA) – combines India-based Semler, China’s Shanghai SLG, Japan’ SRD International, South Korea-based LSK Global Pharma Services, Malaysia’s Veras Research and Taiwan’s StatPlus.
The idea – according to Chairman Young Jack Lee, president of Seoul-based LSK Global Pharmaceutical Services - is to address what the organisation sees as some of the challenges international sponsors and Western CROs face when conducting trials in the region.
“Most Asian regional trials and Asian parts of global clinical trials are either conducted by sponsors directly or by affiliates of multinational CROs with headquarters in Western countries. In the latter case, sponsors are generally concerned about quality and the convenience of one-stop service provided by the multinational CROs.”
This contrasts with local CROs Dr Lee continued, suggesting that regional firms “are more knowledgeable about local situations and more familiar with local idiosyncrasies than affiliates.
"This difference between local CROs and affiliates is very important when studies run into trouble. Local CROs are better equipped to handle trouble than affiliates.”
ACA did not say how its approach will differ from those used by global CROs operating in Asia – beyond the fact that its members are headquartered in the region – and did not respond to Outsourcing-pharma.com’s request for further information ahead of publication.
Quite what impact the ACA will have on global CROs' business in Asia remains to be seen. Most of the larger global players have operated in the region for some time and - as a consequence of their global reach - are well used to adapting to local requirements.
However, some recent analysis indicates that developers are starting to value local knowledge more highly. Research published by Cutting Edge Information (CEI) in 2010 suggests that - in BRIC countries at least - the balance has started to shift in favour of smaller regional CROs.