Research Outline



To research how the contract research organization (CRO) landscape has changed over the past few years and how this is impacting people conducting clinical research. This research will inform a blog post belonging to a medical device contract research organization.

Early Findings

Data Availability

  • The initial round of research indicates that there is a wealth of information available on this topic.

Way #1: The Continuous Consolidation of the CRO Industry

  • The growing readiness and quest by large pharmaceutical companies to outsource a larger variety of their R&D tasks have made large CROs to "acquire niche/high-impact manufacturing companies to expand their existing capabilities."
  • Notable consolidations within the past 3-5 years include the mergers of InVentiv Health with INC Research in 2017, Quintiles with IMS in 2016, Charles River Laboratories' acquisition of MPI Research in 2018, KWS Biotest in 2018, and Citoxlab in 2019, and the acquisition of Selcia and DiscoverX by Eurofins in 2018 and 2017 respectively.
  • CROs are looking at evolving from "commodity service providers to strategic partners," offering integrated wholesome solutions in drug research and development through these consolidations.
  • In May 2017, Parexel was acquired by a private equity firm called Pamplona Capital Management, ending the top four market-leading CROs at the time. Covance, Parexel, Quintiles, and PPD experienced a change of ownership.
  • The implication for these consolidations for people conducting clinical research is the resulting organizations that are strategic and well-positioned within the overall life sciences and health care areas.
  • Private equity investors also have considerable capital and broad portfolios in the life sciences.
  • It has provided an opportunity for the repositioning of contract clinical research services.
  • Strategic advantages have been gained through an increase in the use of big data and sophisticated analysis, together with the integration of technology and data across project management, clinical research, and clinical care.


  • Within the first hour, we have been able to provide one key way through which the CRO landscape has changed over the past few years. We limited our search to the past 3-5 years.
  • For a deeper dive into how the CRO landscape has changed over the past few years, we recommend further research. Details on our recommended research paths have been provided in our proposals below.
  • For all our research, we would focus globally. If a different geographic scope is desired (for instance, a U.S. focus), this would have to be communicated to us in a comment.