A large, available patient pool and an amenable healthcare infrastructure are among the key elements that make Ukraine an attractive clinical trial destination for sponsors looking to save on time and costs, a new report says.

With a population of more than 46 million in 2007, Ukraine has the second biggest patient pool in Eastern Europe after Russia, points out the report by market research and information analysis company RNCOS. That makes for easier and faster patient recruitment, especially as a sizeable portion of Ukraine’s population still cannot afford to pay for costly medicines themselves.

A centralised healthcare system, in which both primary and specialist are structured around large hospitals and referrals are made vertically, also helps, notes the RNCOS report on Ukraine Pharma – New Opportunities for Growth. Moreover, last year there were 9.8 doctors and 4.8 hospital beds per thousand population in Ukraine – a relatively high density not only by developing country but by Western Europe standards.

The Ukrainian pharmaceutical market grew by nearly 21% to more than US$2 billion in 2007 and the future looks “very positive” given the number of government reforms in the pipeline, RNCOS reports. The market is characterised by an expanding share of imported and high-priced drugs, while factors such as the increasing penetration of health insurance and rising disposable incomes are also expected to fuel growth.