Top 10 Clinical Research Organisations in the Pharma and Biotech Industry

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Chanice Henry

Pressured timelines. Rapid decision making. Rigorous planning and execution. Comparator sourcing. Organising blinded studies. Keeping the patient in prime perspective at all times. These are just some of the challenging responsibilities on the to-do lists of clinical trial supply teams. To fail on any of these challenges is to risk harming a pharmaceutical’s route to market.

Over the years the industry has oscillated between in-house and outsourced clinical models. Today, even the larger pharma companies have migrated away from relying on internal capabilities.  This reliance is set to remain according to new research the global healthcare Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) market is forecasted to rise to US$45 billion by 2022.

Although, the decision of selecting a CRO is complex with many variables that need to be evaluated.  

We invited the Pharma IQ community to vote for who they thought are the best CROs in the industry. Now we can reveal Pharma IQ’s top CRO’s for 2017.

Our research base is made up of participants from mainly big pharma, SME pharma and solution providers. Other entities included in this research were biotech and pharma logistics firms. 

The top three ranking has seen a major shuffle this year with a new firm at top spot. Also, one rising star entry has made its way onto the top 10 rank this year.


What criteria makes an excellent CRO?

Just over 50% of our base agreed that quality of services as the most important aspect to consider when selecting a CRO.  The categories were split in the following order.  ( Respondants could vote for more than one answer) 

  • Quality of services 64.71%
  • Reputation and level of experience 50.98%
  • Cost  33.33%
  • Global Reach and Capacity  27.45%
  •  Flexibility in contract 13.73%
  • Other  7.84%

Ending a Partnership with a CRO

The majority of the base noted that CRO contract reviews would happen routinely on an annual basis.  

Logically then, a lack of quality was seen as the dominant reason that would lead to the end of a partnership with a CRO. Around 35% of respondents noted that a lack of communication would fuel them to seriously consider ending the partnership. Agreements, quality or technical, should be used to outline expectations and responsibilities between a CRO and a sponsor. KPIs should be finalised and built collaboratively prior to activities commencing. This ensures that both parties see the partnership as a joint commitment to making the project work. Realistic steps can be agreed upon to maximise the chance of success. These should be reviewed regularly to qualify performance. Some CROs deploy a traffic light system for this review process to identify where the areas of improvement lie and what trends are forming to help with reactive rectification.

Level of mistakes ranked in third in our research. Whereas last year level of mistakes were ranked higher for applying tension on CRO relations.

Over 90% rated their current relationship with their CROs as Satisfactory – Excellent.  Similar to last year’s research which saw all respondents rate their CROs as that.

Most Popular Services Outsourced

Pharmacovigilance was the function that our respondents said was most likely to be outsourced, closely followed by clinical monitoring. These were the top two aspects to be outsourced by our 2016 base. The oversight of different activities running in parallel calls for good team synchronisation within a CRO. As well as attention to detail, the management of the clinical supply chain depends on strong analytical skills. Lesley Holt of Mundipharma notes that leaders need to assess the risks, understand them and potentially mitigate them. Leaders should have perception on when is the best time to intervene. The forecasted plan needs continuous review to see if items need to be realigned.

So Who Made the Cut: Pharma IQ Top 10 CROs as Voted by You!

In a bid to put together a list of the Top 10 CROs who work with the Pharma and Biotech Industry and match organisations’ needs effectively according to the experiences of your partnerships, we have collated the results of our recent survey asking  what criteria makes an ‘excellent CRO’

  1. Quintiles


  3. Covance

  4. PPD

  5. ICON

  6. PRA Health Sciences

  7. INC Research

  8. Charles River Laboratories

  9. Chiltern

  10. SGS

Congratulations to those who ranked in the Top 10 this year. Want to reminisce over previous line ups?  

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