In August, research company Life Science Strategy Group (LSSG) surveyed 161 study participants, consisting of a mixture of executives from Big Pharma, mid-tier sponsors and emerging biotechs – the majority from North America - in order to identify current and future trends in the contract research organisation (CRO) sector.
“We still see patient recruitment, study start-up, and on-time delivery as performance factors influencing perceptions of leadership today,” Jon Meyer, LSSG’s CRO Industry Practice Leader, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
“We are seeing increased importance being placed on data accuracy and communication, among other areas. The report also explores satisfaction with different trial conduct activities and identifies key gaps between CRO service delivery and customer expectations.”
The results also found sponsors scored Quintiles, PPD and Covance high on their technology and informatics strength, and that these CROs are “most likely to be future leaders in the category.”
Nearly a quarter of respondents expected Covance to have a much bigger leadership presence in the space over the next 3 years, due - the report speculates – to the growth of its clinical business and perceived benefits from its acquisition by Labcorp.
Quintiles, meanwhile, was cited by 17% of respondents as future leaders. “This is likely a reflection of its global scale and breadth of therapeutic expertise,” the report said. PPD came in third with 14%.
Top of the charts
The survey forms part of LSSG’s Pharma Outsourcing focus which last year saw the creation of a ‘Yelp-like’ website to allow sponsors to rate and offer insight into CRO partners.
In this report, Covance and Quintiles also topped the poll in terms of which CROs sponsors said they would definitely work with over the coming years, due to their “size, capabilities and expertise,” the report said.
At the other end of the spectrum, 16% of respondents said they will definitely not work with InVentiv, while 11% said they would not work with PRA, Parexel and - interestingly - Quintiles and Covance.
“LSSG believes respondents will not work with InVentiv Health Clinical due in part to the low – comparatively - performance scores in this study, but also because it is a smaller clinical player.”
But Covance, Quintiles and PPD should not get too complacent, as they were also picked out as the CROs most in need of major changes over the next 1-3 years for sponsors to consider working with them, which the report said may be due to poor past performance in terms of timelines and/or cost, “and perceived lack of attention/focus given to small/mid pharma by large CROs.”