In clinical research and treatment development, clinical research organizations (CROs) are frequently a sponsor’s most important partner and ally. Depending on the nature of the clinical trial, and your existing capabilities as a sponsor to run the trial, the CRO company of your choice will typically be responsible for facilitating most of the micro and macro processes that go into designing and running a successful clinical trial.
When contracting a CRO to help you with your trial, you are transferring over a large portion of responsibility into the hands of your clinical research partner. The CRO of your choice will have the responsibility to control a variety of factors and processes of a clinical trial, and depending on their expertise, team structures, service offerings, internal resources and many other capabilities.
Your ability to find and contract a top CRO company that is the right fit for your unique trial will be a determinant of whether or not you will be able to operate a high-quality clinical trial that meets your expected timelines, budget and delivers a top-notch patient experience.
At ClaraHealth (a patient-centric recruitment acceleration platform), we have put together an extensive list of the top CRO companies in the US and around the world. This is not a cro rankings list, but rather a compiled list of some of the top clinical research organizations around the world. We have highlighted their strengths and core service offerings to make it easier for you to find the right fit clinical research partner.
In addition, we’ve put together a list of 9 fundamental questions to ask the prospective clinical research organization, which will help you to save time and ensure a right fit in picking the CRO.
Formerly known as Quintiles and IMS Health, IQVIA is one of the largest CROs in the world, with a large range of service offerings to help advance clinical research.
The company was founded in North Carolina in 1982, and has since grown to over 88,000 employees in more than 100 countries.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by IQVIA include:
- Assistance with protocol design
- Design of phase 1 clinical trials
- Assessment and improvement of phase 2 and 3 clinical trials
- Site identification & selection
- Patient recruitment
- Access to global laboratories via their wholly owned subsidiary Q2 Solutions
Parexel is a global clinical research organization that was founded in 1982, and specializes in conducting clinical studies on behalf of its pharmaceutical partners in order to accelerate and ensure the drug approval process of up-and-coming potential treatments. It currently operates in more than 50 countries, and is run by more than 18,000 employees around the world.
The company has a wide range of service offerings, covering nearly every type of clinical trial service to assist sponsors in running successful clinical studies.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by Parexel include:
- Clinical trial design and development for early phase, phase 2 & 3, and late phase clinical trials
- Clinical data management
- Decentralized clinical trials
- Clinical supply chain management
- Medical writing
- Regulatory affairs consulting
3. PRA Health Sciences
PRA Health Sciences is one of the largest contract research organizations in the world. Founded in 1976 under the name “Anti-Inflammatory Drug Study Group”, the company was renamed to PRA in 1982. PRA Health Sciences employees more than 17,000 people, and provides coverage to more than 90 countries.
In 2021, PRA Health Sciences was acquired by the Ireland-headquartered global CRO leader ICON, which is also reviewed in this list.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by PRA Health Sciences include:
- Decentralized Clinical Trials Platform
- Protocol Consultation & Study Design
- Onsite Support services
- Customized Solutions for Biotech (such as asset valuation, regulatory strategy, engagement and support, drug development strategy and funding solutions)
- Clinical Diagnostics
- Site Commercial Solutions
- PRA’s Laboratories for Drug Development
Headquartered in Ireland, ICON was founded in 1990 in Dublin by co-founders John Climax and Ronan Lambre. The company has since grown to be one of the largest CROs in the world. As of September 2020, the company employs more than 15,000 people in 94 locations and across 40 countries.
ICON offers clinical research services which include consulting, clinical development and commercialization across a wide range of therapeutic areas.
In 2021, ICON acquired PRA Health Sciences, which is another CRO and global leader in clinical research services.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by ICON:
- Commercial Positioning
- Early Phase
- Functional Services Provision
- Language Services
- Medical Imaging
- Real World Intelligence
- Site & Patient Solutions
- COVID-19 Clinical Operations
5. Syneos Health
Formerly known as InVentiv Health Incorporated and INC Research, Syneos Health is a publicly listed and global contract research organization. The company is based in Morrisville, North Carolina, and specializes in assisting companies with late-stage clinical trials. Syneos Health currently employs more than 25,000 people, and has offices across 91 locations.
In early 2018, INC Research was acquired inVentiv Health, and the merged company was named Syneos Health.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by Syneos Health include:
- Decentralized Clinical Trials Solutions
- Bioanalytical Solutions
- Early Phase
- Phase II-III/Phase IIIb-IIIV
- Late Phase
- Medical Device Diagnostics
- Clinical Data Management
- Clinical Project Management
- Clinical Monitoring
- Drug Safety & Pharmacovigilance
- Site and Patient Access
6. Labcorp Drug Development (Formerly Covance)
Formerly known as Covance and renamed to Labcorp Drug Development in early 2021, this CRO is one of the largest contract research organizations in the world. The company claims to provide the world’s largest central laboratory network, and has been rated as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality by the Human Rights Campaign organization in 2018 to 2021. Currently, Labcorp employs over 70,000 people and is able to support clinical research efforts in almost 100 countries around the world.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by Labcorp Drug Development include:
- Preclinical Services
- Clinical Trials
- Clinical Trial Laboratory Services
- Post-Marketing Solutions
- Medical Devices
- Data & Technology
Also known as Pharmaceutical Product Development, PPD is a large global contract research organization headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina. Started as a one-person consulting firm in 1985, PPD has grown to over 27,000 employees worldwide, and provides a wide range of clinical research services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by PPD include:
- Clinical Development
- Early Development
- Peri- and Post-Approval
- PPD Biotech
- PPD FSP
- PPD Laboratories
- Product Development and Consulting
- Site and Patient Centric Solutions
8. Fisher Clinical Services
Part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, Fisher Clinical Services is a global clinical research organization with headquarters in Center Valley, Philadelphia.
The company has been in the business of clinical supply chain management for over 20 years, and is focused exclusively on working with the packaging and distribution requirements of clinical trials across the globe.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by Fisher Clinical Services include:
- Biologistics Management
- Cell & Gene Therapy
- Clinical Ancillary Management
- Clinical Label Services
- Clinical Trial Packaging & Storage
- Clinical Supply Optimization Services
- Cold Chain Management & Expertise
- Distribution & Logistics
- Strategic Comparator Sourcing
- Public Health Research
Established in 1997 under the name Kiecana Clinical Research, KCR is a full-service contract research organization that provides a variety of services for clinical monitoring, safety & pharmacovigilance, clinical project management, quality assurance and regulatory affairs.
KCR operates globally, and has offices in North America, Western Europe, Central Europe and Eartern Europe. The company currently employs more than 700 staff.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by KCR include:
- Trial Execution
Founded in 1992 and based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Medpace is a midsize clinical contract research organization. The company has operations in over 45 countries, and employs over 2,800 people. Medpace provides support services for Phase I-IV clinical trials for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, which include central laboratory services and regulatory services.
Some clinical trial solutions offered by Medpace include:
- Biostatistics and Data Sciences
- Clinical Monitoring
- Clinical Trial Management
- Drug Safety and Pharmacovigilance
- Medical Writing
- Quality Assurance
- Regulatory Affairs
- Risk-Based Monitoring
- Medpace Laboratories