Pharma and biotechs have shared concerns about working with large CROs, saying that the ‘one-stop shop’ model is no longer a cost-effective business model.

CRO Worldwide Clinical Trials conducted a survey that asked pharma and biotech companies for their thoughts on both large and midsize CROs. The industry has been rocky for some time, with Covid-19 having a big impact on outsourcing relationships.

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In the survey, nearly 80% of respondents felt the ‘one-stop-shop’ claim of large CROs is not a cost-effective business model and 50% of respondents said that the instability of large CROs had impacted their willingness to partner due to project team disruptions, lack of access to top talent, poor service delivery, and more.

Other concerns raised by respondents included lack of personalised attention (75%), apprehension about high development costs (71%) and team disruptions within the CRO impacting turnaround times (70%).

Meanwhile, the survey found that midsize CROs are seen more favourably, citing agility (83%), personalised attention (79%), and access to senior-level scientific and medical expertise (80%) as reasons why they prefer to work with them.

Worldwide Clinical Trials CEO Peter Benton said that sponsors are looking for transparent communication, responsiveness, flexibility, and proactive personalised attention.

 “Customers don’t want to be treated like just a number. Some of them have only one asset and they need to be treated like they are our only customer. They want true partnerships, including regular access to and assurance from our senior leaders and scientific experts,” said Benton.

“Clinical research is moving fast into new areas – and emerging to midsize biotechs need our collective experience. They also need a CRO partner that is flexible – one that is willing and able to adapt when needed – and one that they can have confidence in.”

The data also revealed that there is due to be a shift of 41% to 46% (net gain of 5%) from large to midsize CROs over the next three years.

Samir Shah, principal of Shah Pharma Consulting Services, said that the findings by Worldwide Clinical Trials are supported by a McKinsey & Company report that includes data from the biotech segment and provides insights on how CROs can improve their partnership models.