Growing need for CRO expertise in early phase research, overall demand seeing stable growth: Report

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/RTimages)
(Image: Getty/RTimages)

Related tags Clinical trial management CRO

The outsourced pharmaceutical services industry is getting out of its comfort zone, leveraging resources and partnership and focusing on how to make improvements – as demand continues to increase, says CRO.

The contract research organization (CRO) Worldwide Clinical Trials recently released its third annual survey, which collated responses from more than 350 executives in clinical operations, outsourcing, regulatory affairs, and drug safety, representing 169 organizations.

Lynn Ledwith, executive vice president, strategic marketing and commercial operations, Worldwide Clinical Trials, said the results show case the strong need and desire to incorporate data and technology into the drug development process.

“We are focusing more on how we can change and evolve to make improvements – leveraging resources and partnerships – rather than staying in our own comfort zone,” ​Ledwith told us.

According to the report, data quality tops the list of CRO evaluation criteria as the most important factor, with 96% in 2016 and 92% in 2017.

As per the area that can make the greatest impact for the sponsor/CRO relationship, 36% of respondents chose “overall trial management.” ​Ledwith said this reflects that sponsors are looking for CROs that provide innovative solutions.

However, the cost of clinical development remains one of the most significant barriers to drug development. Nearly three quarters (74%) of sponsors said that drug development costs are “significant” ​or “very significant.”

“The survey report reveals sponsors’ most urgent selection criteria and areas where CRO partners can provide innovative improvements to enhance efficiency and collaboration,”​ added Ledwith

“By understanding sponsor needs, CROs and other partners can better deliver value to the drug development process – implementing new processes and innovation while eliminating unnecessary delays and costs.”

According to the report, there also is a growing need for CRO expertise in early phase clinical research. The percentage of respondents “likely”​ or “very likely”​ to engage a CRO for early phase investigations increased 8%, from 55% in 2016 to 63% in 2017.

Ledwith said the increase reflects the new cycle of compounds coming into early development and the lack of facility resources as well as limited operational expertise.

Overall demand for CROs also has seen stable growth, with 68% of respondents saying they were “much more likely”​ to hire a CRO than they were five years ago, compared to 65% in 2016.

“Our industry is facing a time where answers are needed now more than ever,” ​said Ledwith, “if we can be more efficient, more innovative and evolve with the changing landscape, we can then make a larger impact on clinical trials and improve patient outcomes.”

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