Top CROs dominate competition in trial totals, review finds

By Zachary Brennan contact

- Last updated on GMT

A review of shows that the largest CROs are scooping up the most trials as collaborators.
A review of shows that the largest CROs are scooping up the most trials as collaborators.

Related tags: Clinical trial, Quintiles

A breakdown of trials run by the top contract research organizations (CROs) reveals that the big players are leaving little room for smaller firm to compete, according to a review by of trials in 

Although the list of trials on does not offer a complete view of the clinical trial landscape, a quick review shows that the largest CROs are scooping up the most trials as collaborators.

Largest CROs

Quintiles​ leads the pack with a total of 111 studies registered in Although the vast majority - 70 - have already been completed, and another 13 trials were terminated, Quintiles still has 12 trials that it's actively recruiting for, and another 10 active trials that have yet to begin recruiting. The government website shows that Quintiles is currently collaborating with AstraZeneca and Abbott.

With 63 trials listed, Parexel ​is the second most-cited CRO on, according to our review of the site. Thirty-nine of those trials are complete and only two were terminated. The low termination rate puts the company ahead of its peers, and Parexel still has 15 trials that are actively recruiting and two that are active but not yet recruiting. 

Wilmington, North Carolina-based PPD​ is cited as a collaborator in 56 trials – the third most in our tally, though 34 of those trials have been completed or were terminated. The company has 12 trials that are either recruiting or active and not yet recruiting, which puts it on par with PRA Health Sciences in terms of active work.

INC Research,​ meanwhile, is collaborating on about 50 clinical trials listed on the US government site, which includes 20 that have been completed and another 19 that are either recruiting or nearing the recruitment stage. It's difficult to gauge how INC stacks up against its peers mostly because a search of the website for the keywords 'INC' and 'Research' leads to a long list of companies and trials that are not affiliated with the CRO.

Mid-size CROs

Top CROs competitors

Central labs powerhouse​ Covance is listed as a collaborator in 31 trials, though only two of those are actively recruiting, only another four are active and not yet recruiting, and seven were terminated. Those figures put Covance among its mid-sized peers, such as Medpace and PRA Health Services, in terms of trials that are still active. Those figures come as CEO Joe Herring said in the company's most recent conference call that some larger sponsors are looking to engage with Covance.

Medpace, which in May opened a new central laboratory​ in Singapore, is listed as a collaborator for 26 trials, including 16 that are complete, one that was terminated, and another 8 that are either recruiting new patients or active but not yet recruiting. Daiichi Sankyo and Esperion therapeutics are two sponsors that Medpace is working with.

Newly re-branded​ PRA Health Sciences, which previously told us that it’s among the top five CROs in the world, is listed as a collaborator on 28 trials on the US government website, which puts the company near the middle of the pack. Only Quintiles, PPD and Covance have more trials that were terminated. The company is also recruiting for two trials and actively working on four trials that are yet to begin recruiting.

Smaller Players

inVentiv Health, which recently entered a global master services agreement​ with biotech sponsor Advaxis, is listed as a collaborator on eight trials, though six of those are currently recruiting, which is the same number as PPD. 

Chiltern, which recently acquired oncology specialist CRO Ockham​, is listed by the government site as having completed all six of the trials for which it's listed.

And early phase specialist Charles River Laboratories, which according to analysts is currently pursuing M&A in China, completed one trial and is recruiting for another.

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