US contract research organizations are multiplying to meet drug-makers' outsourcing needs.
US drug-makers are outsourcing more and more of their research and development, mainly to contract research organizations, according to figures released in July by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The shift could be good news for researchers seeking positions in industry. In 1991, pharmaceutical companies spent about US$800 million on external research and development, but that skyrocketed to $13 billion in 2011, says John Jankowski, head of research and development statistics at the NSF. That growth outstrips that of any other sector. In 1991, industrial extramural research spending totalled $3.3 billion, but by 2011, spending had risen to $25.3 billion for domestic companies alone. Pharmaceutical firms' share of that total was 23% in 1991, but ballooned to 51% by 2011. Jankowski says that much of the increase comes from the outsourcing of clinical trials. The number of US contract research organizations has risen to match the demand, from around 800 in 2000 to more than 3,100 by the end of 2011, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development in Boston, Massachusetts. - Nature 512, 106, 06 August 2014