In the long term, European contract research organisations (CROs) with scale, global capabilities and expertise will emerge winners. At the same time, there is an evident evolution towards a full-service model.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.pharma.frost.com), European CRO Markets - A Strategic Analysis, finds that the European CRO market was $7.10 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $13.52 billion in 2015. The research analyses market dynamics, leading companies and industry trends to offer an opportunity analysis for the CRO market in the region.
“The growth of the European CRO market is expected to be spurred by the need for pharmaceutical and biotech companies to control costs and accelerate product development,” notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Ranjith Gopinathan. “The high costs incurred when drugs fail during clinical trials has prompted interest in biomarkers. Hence, the development of biomarkers is a new growth driver for CROs.”
European CROs could assist biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in compound selection, dose optimisation, efficacy and safety monitoring through the identification of biomarkers. They increasingly view this as an important growth segment. For instance, France based CRO; Biovays focuses on expression, localisation and quantification of biomarkers.
CROs in Europe are also establishing strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and adopting effective outsourcing models. In addition, they are expanding their global operations. Clinical trials are increasing in size and CROs are going offshore to benefit from untapped patient populations and imperatives of cost efficiency. Moreover, there is an increased opportunity for CROs offering initial screening programmes and capabilities in preclinical and early clinical trials. For instance, medium-sized European CROs such as UK-based Melbourn Scientific are venturing into the preclinical segment in order to capitalise on this trend.
“From early drug discovery through post-launch services, pharmaceutical companies are moving their non-core functions to external providers,” states Gopinathan. “CROs are expanding their scope of operations to leverage their existing functions.”
Consolidation within the pharmaceuticals industry has led to increased competition for CRO contracts. The rapid consolidation of the pharmaceutical and biotech industry would constraint CROs to compete for a smaller pool of customers. Consequently, there is a need for consolidation of the European CROs. For instance, PPD’s acquisition of AbCRO, a European contract research firm offering Phase II-IV clinical services, will help PPD to penetrate key Central and Eastern European markets such as Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia.
Even though cost efficiency is a major driver for any pharmaceutical and biotechnology firm, currently there is greater emphasis on capabilities rather than on the ability to be a low-cost provider. Expertise is a prerequisite for CROs involved in late-stage clinical trials.
“Many European CROs are moving towards a full service model.” remarks Gopinathan. “In addition, European CROs such as Eurofins provide value added services like consultancy, in order to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive European CRO market landscape.”