Consolidation Trend Pressures Independent CROs to Refocus Strategy
An ongoing industry consolidation of contract research organizations (CROs) whose services are used by large drug manufacturers is a significant trend that will only increase in the days to come, says Barry Lake, chief executive officer at Devana Solutions, LLC.
Sponsors are putting pressure on CROs to be more efficient as they also seek to broaden their trial coverage in a wider swath of therapy indications, Lake says. “Down at the site level, this consolidation should be a bit of a wake-up call,” in part because it’s been such a fragmented market for so long, he adds.
Related to this trend is the fact that site selection for clinical trials remains one of the biggest challenges for sponsors and CROs, with almost half of sites ultimately enrolling zero or one patient, according to Lake. Those under-performing sites cost sponsors more than $4 billion annually.
“The challenge of sorting good and bad sites is difficult in a fragmented cottage industry with very little publicly available data on research site capabilities,” Lake says.
In Lake’s view, sites have two basic choices when it comes to addressing the trend toward consolidation as it gains momentum: 1) redouble efficiencies and strategies to remain independent and competitive or 2) make themselves a more attractive acquisition target. Sites choosing the latter strategy can improve their visibility and cash flow if they better position themselves to meet a sponsor’s focus.
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For sites that wish to remain their own boss, so to speak, Lake says the key is taking a hard look at operational efficiencies to assess “what you’re good at and where you’re weak.” For example, if it is taking two weeks for the site to accomplish a feasibility analysis chore for sponsors that should be done in three days, there are issues to address.
It’s not as easy it might sound, Lake admits. Sites are under such extreme day-to-day pressures, it can be difficult to take a pause and consider the long-term, bigger picture.
Author: Michael Causey