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Annual Review of Contract Research Organisations

The total number of CROs has continued to increase in 2001 in spite of economic conditions that the CROs describe as 'tough'; globally we record 25 more CROs than at this time in 2000. The greatest growth has been of European clinical CROs, while the number of clinical CROs in North America has actually fallen marginally (see Figures 1 and 2) for the first time. In Table 1 we compare the total number of CROs in 2001 with the number in 1980. Over this 21-year period the average year-on-year growth has been 6.5 per cent (a slight increase from 2000). This increase has been driven by clinical CRO growth over the period, which has averaged 11.1 per cent in Europe and 8.4 per cent in North America.

he near double-digit growth in the number of CROs contrasts with that for contract packers and manufacturers (CPMs) which has averaged 3.6 per cent globally with almost equal growth in North America and Europe.

The deceleration of the rate of growth of CROs is clearly illustrated by the graphs of the three-year moving average of the number of additional CROs, in existence (the average of each of the three previous years' number of additional CROs), which we have plotted in Figures 3-5. In all three fields - clinical, preclinical and CPMs - the average growth rate has fallen to well below its peak level seen in and around the 1990 period.


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By Dr Graham Hughes, Scientific Director of Technomark Consulting Services Ltd, and Marianne O'Neill, Manager of Technomark Research

Graham Hughes is Scientific Director and a Founder of Technomark Consulting Services Limited. Over the last 15 years he has keenly observed the evolving CRO scene and seen it grow from something of a cottage industry into a global US$8 billion industry. He is also the Scientific Investment Director of Technomark Medical Ventures, a novel consulting partnership with Lloyds Development Capital, which is responsible for investing in early stage life science companies and nurturing them as they grow.

Marianne O'Neill's responsibilities include the management of the database system upon which the Technomark Registers and other Technomark publications are dependent.

She also undertakes various data gathering and market intelligence assignments on behalf of external customers as well as providing research support to all the other divisions of Technomark Consulting Services Ltd. Marianne co-ordinates the Technomark Registers Online and the Technomark Website.


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