Big Pharma's need to cut development spending and boost its presence in big new markets is driving sizzling hot growth rates for China's contract research organizations. Ranjith Gopinathan, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, projects that China's CROs devoted to late-stage research will boom along at an 18 percent annual growth rate, with revenue projected to grow from $145 million to $240 million by 2012.
"(The) CRO industry in China as a whole is still young and fragmented, but they anticipate a quick ramp up toward standardization and global competitiveness," Mandy Chui, global leader for emerging markets at IMS Health, tells Reuters.
Modular R&D says that there are at least 138 CROs in China, but nailing down hard numbers is difficult. Only one of these CROs, WuXi, is public. But it seems clear that the early work they offered in biology and chemistry is making way for more lucrative contracts to undertake preclinical drug studies and human trials. And U.S.-based CROs like Charles River are responding by going where the clients are. The company has already built one facility in Shanghai and is now blueprinting a second.