Western Europe’s loss is Asia’s gain as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies looking to cut costs and accelerate recruitment shift oncology clinical trials eastward, a recent analysis found.

According to analysts from Citeline – described as the leading provider of global clinical trial intelligence to the pharmaceutical industry – there was a 50% rise between 2004 and 2007 in the number of oncology trials started in Asia, with South Korea seeing a 2.5-fold increase over that period.

The total number of oncology trials initiated worldwide stayed relatively stable between 2004 and 2007, reported Citeline analyst Alice Ng Fink in Good Clinical Practice Journal. And North America consolidated its long-held position as the geographical region with the largest number of oncology studies. In 2004, 47% of all trials started during the year had sites in North America, a share that rose to 53% in 2007.

By contrast, all the major countries in Western Europe – with the exception of Spain – played host to fewer oncology trials in 2007 than in 2004, suggesting this was where the swing to Asia hit hardest.

“We were also surprised to see a relatively stable count in Eastern Europe, and a 30% decrease in Latin America, as many in industry had speculated trials were moving into these locations over the past several years,” Fink commented. “In terms of oncology, at least, the figures just don’t support that premise.”