Contract research organisations (CROs) in the Asia Pacific region generated estimated revenues of $1.2 billion from Phase I to IV clinical trials in 2006, according to new research from Frost & Sullivan. CRO markets in these countries could reach $2 billion in 2010, the analysts believe.

At present, India and China are the preferred destinations for contract research outsourcing in Asia, and they are likely to witness substantial growth in trials handled by CROs, Frost & Sullivan predicts. Other countries in the region likely to see increasing activity in this area are Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and, to some extent, South Korea.

In China, the greater part of the outsourcing is in the preclinical, Phase I and Phase II stages of drug development, Frost & Sullivan points out. While CRO budgets are projected to grow across all phases in the next 12-24 months, increases are expected to be more marked in Phases II, III and IV.

In terms of therapeutic categories, urology and musculoskeletal/arthritis should be the most outsourced research areas in China, while CROs need to maintain their capabilities in oncology, cardiovascular, dermatology and gastroenterology, the analysts say.

The most outsourced services in India are Phase II-IV trials, interactive voice response systems and medical diagnostics, according to Frost & Sullivan. The research areas most prone to outsourcing are cardiovascular, central nervous system and metabolic diseases, although oncology is expected to show growth in the next two years.

CNS diseases susceptible
One of the research areas most susceptible to outsourcing in Japan, South Korea and Australia is CNS diseases, the analysts believe, with further potential in Japan for allergy/respiratory, pain management and dermatology.

CRO choice overall in these markets is determined in particular by price, quality, therapeutic expertise, resource availability and service capability. “Although most claim neutrality to price in the CRO selection process, it emerges as a key source of dissatisfaction, thereby indicating that it does play an important role,” Frost & Sullivan comments.

The new research – three titles in all covering, respectively, India, China and Japan/South Korea/Australia – is grouped under the title, Contract Research Organization Market: What Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Companies Want.