ISR discusses Phase II/III Outsourcing Growth, CRO Selection, and Sponsors' Preferences from Latest Report


Applied Clinical Trials

The following data points and discussion have been extracted from the “2013 CRO Quality Benchmarking – Phase II/III Service Providers” report released by Industry Standard Research (ISR) on April 23, 2013.       

Phase II/III Outsourcing to Maintain Growth in 2013

The outsourcing of clinical development continues to rise. Sponsors estimate that in 2012 they increased outsourcing of Phase II/III services by an average of 7%. This trend should continue in 2013, as outsourced study volume is expected to increase by 8% over the next 12 months.

Cost and CRO Selection

In 2012, the CRO industry’s focus was on preferred provider agreements, M&A activity, and tools to help reduce cost... Was anyone asking the sponsors what they wanted?

ISR asked 157 respondents with responsibility for clinical outsourcing of Phase II/III studies and received some thought-provoking feedback: Given the option, 75% of sponsors would prefer 10% faster recruitment timelines to 20% reduction in trial costs.

A similar sentiment was reflected when comparing findings between ISR’s 2012 and 2013 reports in which ISR asked respondents to identify the most important criteria used when evaluating and selecting clinical service providers:

In 2012, “Low Cost” ranked as the 4th most important attribute. When ISR asked the same question and offered the same responses in 2013, “Low Cost” dropped two spots and ranked as the 6th most important attribute.

ISR’s take – As seen in the chart and discussion above, “Low Cost” remains a factor when selection of clinical service providers. However, it appears that sponsors are willing to overlook the higher price tag to partner with a provider with proven service quality records, study experience, and innovative services.

Sponsors’ Preferences

Repeat customers are not accidental…

While we understand more goes into the selection of a clinical service provider than “past experiences,” ISR feel that “Preference” – based mainly on those past experiences – plays a significant role in that evaluation and selection process.

ISR asked respondents “[Of service providers you’ve used] which would you prefer to work with for Phase II/III services if the decision were completely up to you?”

Medpace received the highest ranking out of all CROs measured – with half (50%) of its current and past customers indicating they prefer to use them again for their Phase II/III studies.

Information about ISR’s report

The 5th annual “CRO Quality Benchmarking - Phase II/III Service Providers” report provides pharmaceutical sponsors and clinical service providers with an independent and comprehensive analysis of CRO service quality and clinical outsourcing of Phase II/III clinical trial services. In addition to the outsourcing market dynamics and CRO selection/evaluation criteria discussed above, this year’s the report includes over 470 service evaluations of 29 CROs across 26 critical characteristics associated with service quality.

More information is available on ISR’s website:


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