Survey says: Big CROs are only getting bigger

The Association of Clinical Research Organizations, which represents the world's largest CROs, polled its membership and found that the industry's biggest players have seen their revenues and payrolls skyrocket over the past decade, claiming an increasingly large share of global R&D spends.

Surveying a group that includes Quintiles ($Q), Icon ($ICON) and Parexel International ($PRXL), ACRO found that member company revenue had grown 180% over the past 10 years, reaching $14.2 billion and accounting for two-thirds of all CRO spending. Over the same period, ACRO's members grew to employ more than 100,000 researchers, touting a payroll of roughly $6 billion.

All that growth has expanded ACRO members' reach in the industry, and companies in the organization worked on 85 of the 88 drugs approved by the FDA and EMA last year and 19 of the 20 biosimilars OKed anywhere in the world, according to the survey.

"As ACRO members we pride ourselves on the safety, quality and efficiency of the research we conduct," ACRO Chairman and Icon CEO Ciaran Murray said in a statement. "We are also at the forefront of innovation, which is enhancing the development process and delivering better outcomes for our customers."

- read the survey

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