The growing prevalence in clinical research of functional outsourcing, whereby a specialist provider takes responsibility for a specific function (e.g., data management) across a range of client projects, rather than the client handing over all aspects of each clinical trial to a full-service contract research organisation (CRO), has been playing into the hands of UK-based CRO Premier Research Group.

The company, which was acquired in June by Pegasus Bidco, a buy-out vehicle backed by private equity firm ECI Partners, financier Indigo and the Premier management, says its Functional Sourcing group is experiencing its third straight year of “high double-digit” growth, with staffing up by 70% in the current fiscal year. One component is double the number of functional sourcing agreements with top 20 pharmaceutical companies as ranked by Contract Pharma in 2008, Premier Research reports.

Other boosters have included a contract as sole provider of functionally sourced data management activities for a top five pharmaceutical company in support of a recent biotechnology acquisition; and exceeding study lock goals for 2008 by the third quarter of the year. According to Keith Fine, senior director of Premier Research's Functional Sourcing activities, the growth is largely down to “increasing demand for outsourcing on a functional basis in the industry”.

Sponsors are “recognising Premier Research’s leadership in this area and are impressed with the model we employ and the quality we deliver”, Fine added. “Much of the growth we have realised is with our current partners.”