Developing new drugs costs billions of pounds in research and development. Around half of the total cost is spent on clinical trials; they are essential in bringing any new drug to market. Recruiting trial patients and retaining them for the duration of any clinical trial presents a significant challenge for pharmaceutical businesses and creates a critical bottleneck in drug development.
The initial challenge is finding enough patients to generate the high-quality data that regulators require to give a new drug approval, and doctors want to see before they start writing prescriptions. The next challenge is ensuring that enough patients see the trial through to the end.
A growing number of pharmaceutical companies are turning to clinical research organisations (CROs) to help them overcome these barriers and manage the clinical trial process.
Contract research organisations
Contract research organisations (CRO) have benefited greatly from the pressures facing the pharmaceutical industry today. In particular, pharmaceutical companies need to maintain a steady flow of new blockbuster drugs as their existing products become available as generics. While the CRO industry’s growth rate has noticeably slowed since the mid-90s, it retains a growth rate that any other business in the pharmaceutical industry would be envious of.
As the largest pharmaceutical market globally, the US accounts for most of the global CRO market. The US CRO market is worth around $4.2 billion, compared to Europe’s $2.6 billion. However, the growth rate in the European market has outstripped that of the US for some time. Most analysts agree that this growth rate is attributable to Eastern Europe, which is an attractive investment target for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Clinical research organisations
Competition in the European clinical research market has continued to increase in tandem with the growth rate. As competition heats up, CROs are increasingly looking for ways to expand their services and entry into new markets.
But while many of them have operated commercial services in developing regions, their experience doesn’t necessarily extend to actively participating in running clinical trials. As a result, there are significant benefits to partnering with CROs who have international and regional experience.
CROs that operate internationally rapidly gain experience with different regulatory frameworks and types of products. This experience is invaluable to pharmaceutical companies. By partnering with international CROs that can operate in multiple regions, pharma businesses can streamline their clinical trial processes. As these CROs grow and gain experience, their value increases, as does the range of benefits they offer to their partners.
Businesses like B4B have an important role to play in helping pharmaceutical businesses to streamline their spending and offer rewards and incentives to trial patients when operating internationally. Trial patients need incentivising to sign up for clinical trials and see them through until the end. B4B supplies prepaid cards that businesses can use to distribute funds and cover their expenses. The easier it is for drug companies to get money to trial patients and other businesses, the smoother their clinical trial processes will be.
Pharmaceutical businesses need to work with a range of other businesses and organisations to keep their clinical trials running smoothly. CROs are already playing a vital role in trial patient recruitment and retention; they are likely to become even more important in the future.