With the 6th-largest economy in the world and by far the largest in South America, Brazil will continue to wear the continental outsourcing crown in the foreseeable future. But that doesn't mean other countries can't take a sizable chunk of the Latin American clinical pie.

Countries from Ecuador and Panama to Colombia and Guatemala have tremendous potential to become recognizable forces in clinical research, given some regulatory reforms, says Pablo Hammerschmidt, Icon's senior director of clinical strategy. But of all the countries in Central and South America, Argentina stands to make an impact thanks to its tremendous growth.

Valued at $49.4 million in terms of revenue in 2010, the Argentine clinical trial market is small. But it's expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9% through 2015, according to a recent GBI Research study. Analysts credit the spike to the country's solid medical infrastructure, increasing investment in healthcare and a growing prevalence of certain cardiovascular, central nervous system (CNS), gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases. On top of its budding clinical scene, Argentina's pharmaceutical market has grown at an annual growth rate of up to 22% in recent years, despite concerns about IP security.

"Many Latin American governments recognize the importance of clinical research in public health development and as a result are making changes to streamline the protocol review processes," Hammerschmidt said of the region's efforts.

For example, Argentina's Administración Nacional de Medicamentos, Alimentos y Tecnología Médica (ANMAT) is expected to unveil its electronic submission system for clinical trials in September. According to the ANMAT website, electronic delivery will ensure transparency and save costs and time.


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