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Full service CROs: a cost-effective option for global therapeutically focused clinical development expertise

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Skyrocketing clinical development costs are bad news for everyone, from pharmaceutical companies to patients. That’s why it’s crucial we find more efficient ways of getting better products to market faster. Could partnering with a global full-service CRO be the solution?

According to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development it costs $1.3 billion on average to bring a new drug to market.1 With clinical studies becoming ever-more complex, requiring more patients and data, these rising costs aren’t surprising.2 However, the high cost of development doesn’t just impact biopharmaceutical companies – it also directly impacts consumers through increasing medication prices. That’s why it’s in everyone’s best interests to find more economical ways to bringing new therapies to market.

In an effort to achieve greater efficiencies, many biopharmaceutical companies are now partnering with global full-service CROs that offer the complete range of clinical development services across the entire drug development lifecycle. By capitalizing on their vast scale, broad geographic reach and firm understanding of clinical development programs, these flexible outsourcing models help forge long-term strategic alliances that enable companies to speed better medicines to patients much more efficiently.

Flexibility counts

By combining services under one partnership, long-term strategic alliances with global full-service CROs ensure dedicated resources and standardized processes while eliminating hand-offs between vendors, thereby reducing both time and internal staff required for oversight.  Additional benefits to biopharmaceutical companies include: 


  • Economies of scale 
  • Minimal project-based training costs
  • Increased quality through transparent and repeatable processes
  • Consistent quality through staffing trials with dedicated expert teams 
  • Improved time-to-market by eliminating the bidding process
  • Minimized risk through performance-measured alliances based on payment milestones
  • Schedule accuracy by utilising trusted project and alliance management tools
  • Simplified vendor management by eliminating the need to manage multiple CROs


And when such a full-service alliance doesn’t suit a particular project, working with a global full-service CRO may still be the answer through other flexible and innovative outsourcing models. For example, entering into a functional service provider (FSP) partnership – an alliance that packages together similar repetitive tasks/functions across an entire clinical development program to achieve synergistic efficiencies – is fast becoming more commonplace and is a model most global full-service CROs can offer. 

Reaching far and wide

Biopharmaceutical companies are growing increasingly aware of the advantages of emerging regions like Asia/Pacific and Latin America. In addition to benefiting from the proven quality and increased cost efficiencies in these regions, there is value to be gained from establishing an early presence in areas of increasing commercial importance (e.g., China or India). To maximize your product’s chances in this global marketplace, your partner must have the infrastructure and expertise necessary to access such regions – both qualities global full-service CROs have in abundance. 

Therapeutic expertise without sacrificing niche experience

With global networks of experts, large, full-service CROs can offer deep therapeutic expertise across a broad range of

medical conditions, as well as experience in special populations, such as women and children.  These teams are comprised of experienced professionals with on-the-ground experience, which allows these CROs to bring to bear their full global network without sacrificing the intimate clinical knowledge required to deliver even the most complex trials.

View of the big picture

Collaborating with a global full-service CRO also means you’ll benefit from the advice of a partner that understands your program as a whole, rather than just a discreet section of it. The close relationship an alliance fosters creates great opportunities. For example, a global full-service CRO can identify where potential future challenges may lie in your product’s clinical development and suggest innovative solutions before these challenges even arise.

Mastering global full-service partnerships 

It’s often said “a jack of all trades is a master of none,” but when it comes to full-service CROs, this isn’t the case – such organizations simply have broader networks of regional, therapeutic and operational expertise that allow them to deliver the full spectrum of clinical development services. It’s no surprise therefore, that more and more companies are taking advantage of full-service CRO partnerships. 

Mark Roseman, D.Sc., is executive vice president, business development and marketing at INC Research,

a therapeutically-focused full-service CRO with a ‘Trusted Process’ for bringing new therapies to market.

Visit for more information.

1. Tufts CSDD. “Drug Developers Are Aggressively Changing the Way They Do R&D.” January 05, 2011.

2. Tufts CSDD. “Outlook 2011.” January 2011.

By Mark Roseman, D.Sc. - executive vice president, business development and marketing at INC Research

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