If you recently decided to become a clinical research associate, maybe you’re not aware of what a CRO is. At this stage maybe you imagine yourself working for a pharmaceutical company in the near future. However, most CRA’s start their career within a CRO instead. What exactly is a CRO, and why would you work for one?
After a pharmaceutical company has developed a new drug candidate and it has passed toxicology tests in animals, it is time to test the molecule in humans. A full-service contract research organization (or CRO) is a company specialized in designing and conducting clinical trials. After the last patient has completed the study, they may also perform the statistical analysis and write the trial report. Some CRO’s are specialized in certain phases of the study (phase I-IV) others may be specialized in e.g. pharmacovigilance.
Why do pharmaceutical companies consult CROs?
A clinical trial has to be conducted where the patients are. In general it’s to difficult to recruit enough patients in a limited geographical region during a short period of time. That’s why trials usually have to be conducted at several sites simultaneous. Sometimes even in several countries.
CRO’s are sometimes also called:
- Contract house
- Trial management organization
- Third party service (EC III)
The CRO is specialized in conducting the trial in certain regions. They are well apt to the regulatory requirements and have a huge network of potential sites, clinics and investigators.
The pharmaceutical companies are paying for the knowledge, organization skills and quality of work that a CRO can provide.
The CRO job market
- More than 250.000 people are working in the clinical research industry
- Many industries are seriously affected by the global economic crisis, but clinical research is still expanding
- To meet the demands of staffing, CRO companies are using incentive programs:
- Higher compensation
- Enhanced benefit programs
- Career advancement opportunities, training “on-the-job”, external training, courses and more
What are CROs looking for in a potential CRA candidate?
- Relevant experience
- Desire and motivation to learn
- Attention to detail
- Communication skills
Top 7 biggest CROs
As described in a recent post it’s usually easier to get your first CRA job in a smaller company. However, the following 7 companies make up about 50% of the business.
- PPD (Pharmaceutical Product Development)
- INC Research
- inVentiv Health Clinical