Due to slowing sales growth and rising research and development costs, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly looking to Asia based clinical research organizations (CROs) to manage their clinical trials. In the last five years, Asian CROs have found themselves progressively responsible for recruitment, clinical supply chain management, project management, quality assurance, data analysis and regulatory matters.
The coordination of these diverse areas is no simple task. To remain competitive, many small to medium sized CROs have recently merged or formed alliances with global partners. Consolidation means fewer potential partners for pharmaceutical companies. However, it also means that CROs have a much wider range of regional and therapeutic competencies and can often deliver results on accelerated timelines.
India and China are leading destinations for clinical trials in Asia. They both have large, treatment-naïve patient pools and low-cost environments. They also have growing numbers of patients suffering from chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes.
China in particular has a welcoming environment for CROs: the government says it will invest between U.S. $1 – 2 billion in new drug development from 2011 to 2016. China’s CRO market is expected to grow at a rate of 15 percent through 2015, to reach a total of U.S. $750 million.
In addition, the number of clinical trials in India is set to grow by more than 17 percent over the next few years.
Several other countries to watch include Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, followed by the Philippines and Malaysia. While the first three nations boast excellent infrastructure and local government support for small-scale clinical trials, the latter two have yet to see their full potential optimized. The Philippines in particular boasts a highly educated, English-speaking healthcare infrastructure and a large population.