August 14, 2022
Trends in store for the clinical and contract research organizations post-pandemic
The last five years have seen contract research organization sectors blossom in terms of value along with merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions. The increased use of pharmaceuticals, cost reduction of supply chains to regional and national manufacturing hubs, and novel innovative medicines driving strong investor interest in these business sectors, are the main drivers for this enhancement.
There has been a significant increase in the number of clinical trials during 2019 as compared to 2018:
The COVID-19 pandemic came with extraordinary global health and humanitarian challenges. Along with deep dislocation across the global economy, it has also caused huge economic disruption for governing bodies, companies, and individuals. In this situation, companies not only had to deliver benefits to society & environment but must meet the bottom line of their business.
Pharma companies came out in front and center by supplying vital medical products and services to support patients in their time of need. These pharma companies along with the help of CROs attracted widespread attention to developing new therapeutics and vaccines for COVID‑19 which could bring back everything to normal. However, at the same time, healthcare professionals, found it difficult to adjust and work in a remote environment. Clinical trials were severely affected by disarrangement in both new enrolment and challenges to maintaining existing patients on therapies.
Before COVID 19 there was rapid, dramatic, and long-term progress in the field of research. But the pandemic had either retrenched most academic, industry, and government-based science and clinical research or redirected research to COVID-19.
Except for a few life-saving therapies, most clinical trials have been either stopped or paused, while other ongoing trials are now closed for new enrolment.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections to the study participants, the ongoing clinical trials were modified, enabling home administration of treatment and virtual monitoring.
Apart from minimizing COVID-19 infection, these processes also avoid diverting healthcare resources from the pandemic response.
The situation has become more critical to protect research in progress, as well as physician-scientist focus on the research workforce.
Reported disruption level of clinical trials, therapeutic areas wise, (%) of the respondent (2,4):
These are the top five therapeutic areas that are negatively impacted during the pandemic. There is a sheer drop in the number of trials during 2020 compared to 2019:
To enable more and more virtual and remote clinical trials, the leading pharma, CRO, and eClinical software providers must collaborate to share risk, co-develop, and cooperate for both resilience and response.
Several specialized virtual trial providers have also attracted considerable attention during the pandemic, which resulted in a rise in all deal-making activity over the past two years.
The number of deals in the virtual trials space from 2018 till 2022 (Q2):
During the clinical development process, collaboration with a CRO is an essential and significant step for biotech and pharma companies as well as for nutraceuticals and cosmetic industries.
Approximately, 44% of the market share is occupied by small and mid-sized CROs for clinical trials.
It has been observed there is a clear need for science-driven CROs in present times. Gaining access to giant CROs for smaller/start-up pharma, biotechnology, and academic institutions may be extremely challenging. Thus, the demand for small and mid-sized CRO services is growing, who can bring real-world experience to each trial and further become a scientific driving force and powerhouse behind the project’s study design, execution, and ultimate success.