According to Frost & Sullivan, the CRO market is forecast to grow to US$ 71.7billion by 2024 (+8% CAGR 19-24F). As biopharma companies continue to externalise R&D operations with a higher focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the CRO market in the region is forecast to grow at double the global rate, at a compound annual rate of +15% between 2019 and 2024.
One of the reasons biopharma companies are turning to the Asia-Pacific region is that running trials in traditional locations, such as North America and Western Europe, is becoming more challenging.
According to GlobalData, the median number of patients recruited in oncology clinical trials involving sites in the Asia-Pacific region was over 40% higher than the global median (2018-2019 trials). As study protocols and designs become increasingly complex, so does patient recruitment. Asia, with its large treatment-naïve population pool and low trial concentration has become a preferred destination to accelerate subject recruitment for the most complex clinical trials. While Australia and New Zealand are preferred locations to run early-phase trials, sponsors often look to Asia for large, late-phase clinical studies.
Australia and Asia have become destinations of choice for biopharma clinical trials. This is mainly because of its large patient pool, lower trial density and so lower risk of competing trials, the high quality of medical facilities, government financial incentives for clinical trials, lower costs, and the strategic importance of Asian consumer markets. Moreover, a US Investigational New Drug (IND) submission is not necessary to initiate first-in-human (FIH) clinical trials in Australia.
Dr Simone Flight, principal consultant at Novotech Biodesk said: “Biotechnology companies can initiate a clinical trial in Australia in parallel to the preparation of a US IND submission, often commencing dosing within a single review cycle of six-to-eight weeks from submission.”
Moreover, most Asian countries lack systematic reimbursement of standard of care which means clinical trials are often the only channel that patients can access novel treatments. This ultimately stimulates recruitment rates and encourages patient adherence to research therapies.
In an outsourced CRO model, working with a local, regional team can be the key to success. A regional CRO provides the local expertise which supports sponsors’ ability to quickly activate sites and get patients enrolled. A flat team structure also facilitates communication between the CRO and the sponsor as well as decision-making, and to accelerate escalation when issues arise.
Also, having staff located near the study site, and understanding the culture and language makes a huge difference in terms of a study’s success rate.