World CRO Market: General Statistics and Trends

Growth trends of the global CRO market

The value of the global CRO market in 2014 is estimated at about $27 billion, and this figure is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 6.6 %, reaching by 2017 the estimated number of $32.7 billion.

The share of the clinical trials market in this revenue in 2014 makes over 78% or an estimated $21.2 billion, with a promise to reach by 2017 some $25.5 billion at a compound annual growth rate of 6.4 %.

A significant part of this market growth happened on the account of clinical trial phases II to IV, with their total share of the revenue by trial phase being about 60%.

Medical research in Phase I accounts for as little as 7% of the generated revenue. The share of central laboratory research makes 12%, and another 13% is earned by preclinical services.

Worldwide trends affecting the international market of clinical trials

The most dramatic change on the market of clinical studies at worldwide scale is expected to be in the share of strategic partnerships. It is expected to reach well over 30 % by 2018 compared to 12 –15% in 2014.

Still in 2014 this trend resulted in over 50% of the global clinical research market being held by larger companies.

This remarkable growth of strategic partnerships is a result of industry leaders' restructuring their research and development units. This process is dictated by:

  • urgent need to achieve cost-cutting;
  • regular pressure from patent expiry;
  • declining revenues;
  • generic competition;
  • aspiration to market their company as one-stop-shops.

These circumstances lead to increased outsourcing of clinical trials and medical research by the largest CROs in developed countries to specialized companies in emerging countries. Consequently this process results in further expansions, mergers and acquisitions, as well as in attempts of leading companies to enter into strategic partnerships with top pharma and biotech companies.

Clinical trial market share of emerging countries

In emerging countries the cost of conducting medical research is about 40% to 60% lower than in Europe, USA or other developed countries. As a result, the clinical study market in emerging countries demonstrates a double digit grows.

The leader on CRO market in emerging countries is China, holding about 7% to 10% of the global share in 2014 and growing in double digits. It is juxtaposed with the U.S. and European share of 43 % and 40% respectively of this market in the same year, with the growth they demonstrate being only in single digits.

Trends in CRO ownership status

One of remarkable trends in the growth of this industry is the entry of several midsize companies into the top 20 league of multibillion revenue giants.

The other notable trend refers to industry leaders’ ownership status, with more of top CROs going public. This trend indicates industry’s healthy growth and inspires mid-size companies for further development. Thus, if 14 out of 16 leading companies were private in 2012, in 2014 the number of private companies decreased to 11.