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harmaceutical companies and contract research organisations (CROs) can cut their costs by anything between 50% and 75% through outsourcing their clinical trials to India, a new report claims.

India is one of the most economical destinations for outsourcing global trials, says the report by local market research and information analysis company RNCOS, Booming Clinical Trials Market in India.

For example, it notes, the salary of a local clinical research associate (CRA) is 13% of the equivalent in the US, or 17% and 19% of CRA salaries in the UK and Germany respectively. Similarly, the cost of a biostatistician in India is 15%, 18% and 17% of the levels in the US, the UK and Germany respectively.

Companies can also make considerable savings on utilities and land when setting up operations in India, RNCOS adds. This is at a time when the estimated cost of developing a new drug is close to US$1,200 million, with almost half of that sum going on Phase I to IV clinical trials, it points out.

India also has a much better track record of trial completion and patient recruitment than many other outsourcing destinations, the report contends – a key consideration given the exorbitant cost of slipping just one day over schedule. By choosing India, RNCOS says, sponsors can cut the completion time for various phases of clinical development by 30-40%.

But the new report also comes against a backdrop of gathering concern in the media about unchecked growth of outsourcing to India, in an environment where expertise, oversight independent monitoring may leave a lot to be desired.

RCNOS acknowledges these difficulties, warning that “to achieve its goal of becoming a global hub of clinical trials, the country has to overcome challenges like unethical trials, delays in trial approval, inappropriate protection of clinical data, and lack of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) certified sites and investigators”.