Selecting the Right CRO Partner: Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Using a CRO, CRO Selection, CRO Partner, Clinical Trials
CRO partner

When selecting a CRO partner, bigger may not always be better. Read more about why smaller CRO companies can offer a more strategic partnership.

CRO partner

Selecting the Right CRO Partner: Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

It would be incorrect to make the assumption that because one organization is bigger than another, it has the skills and capabilities to deliver more success on larger projects than smaller companies, and it seems that pharma is wising up to this. According to a recent news report, it seems that large CROs may become extinct1. They are stuck between being big enough to partner with large pharma yet lacking the capabilities of jumbo CROs created by recent mergers. On the other hand, mid-size/smaller CROs continue to grow.

Small CROs, because of their niche/specialties, are able to solidify their status as the CRO partner of choice for small pharma/biotech/medical device1. While larger providers may have the global footprint and existing infrastructure required to conduct large scale studies, we are beginning to see pharma questioning if these organizations can offer the same level of flexibility, personal service and senior management involvement, often provided by smaller and mid-sized CROs. For example, smaller organizations are typically able to quickly assemble team members with the right experience to fit the specific requirements of a study and also be able to scale services up or down if needed. Larger CROs can often find themselves governed by set processes and may be slow in response to change.

Investigators are also starting to step out of their comfort zone for CRO selection. Companies across the industry are continuously facing new, competitive, regulatory and economic challenges. So, rather than sticking with the familiar and automatically assigning new projects to an existing CRO partner based on previous study results or established relationships, pharma companies are starting to consider their options and use the CRO best qualified for the job. Proven expertise, which goes beyond just the technical capabilities at hand, is essential, and smaller/mid-sized CROs often have deeper niche areas of experience when compared to larger organizations.

It is also a mistake to assume that the larger CROs have the most talented work force. Many mid-sized and smaller CROs were founded by individuals or groups of scientists whose expertise in a therapeutic area or other discipline is at the forefront of their competitive advantage.

Finally, investigators are increasingly looking to use a CRO which they can see being an extension of their team in order to form a successful partnership. Experience is important but “CVs” only demonstrate so much, and investigators are increasingly selecting CRO partners with the vision of building a lasting, collaborative relationship and one which has a strong understanding of the challenges they face.

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