Healthcare Contract Research Organization Market Size, Share & Trends Report

Healthcare Contract Research Organization Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Type (Drug Discovery, Pre-clinical, Clinical), By Service (Clinical Monitoring, Data Management), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 - 2028

  • Published Date: Jun, 2021
  • Base Year for Estimate: 2020
  • Report ID: 978-1-68038-688-2
  • Format: Electronic (PDF)
  • Historical Data: 2016 - 2019
  • Number of Pages: 120

Report Overview

The global healthcare contract research organization market size was valued at USD 39.6 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6% from 2021 to 2028. Increasing investment in R&D programs, preference for outsourcing activities due to time and cost constraints, and patent expiration in the healthcare sector are key factors anticipated to drive the market in the coming years. Contract research outsourcing collaborations offer cutting-edge services and thus government organizations prefer assigning projects to Contract Research Organizations (CROs), thereby facilitating the market growth.

U.S. healthcare CRO market size, by type, 2016 - 2028 (USD Billion)

However, the CRO market has been impacted markedly like many other sectors, by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical trials have been suspended globally, as patient recruitment has become strained and operating sites closed. The pharmaceutical sponsors have started to rethink the way to adapt the drug development paradigm to align with the new reality.

Research towards treatments for COVID-19 has been developing at a remarkable speed. Research groups across the globe have set about identifying drug treatment for COVID-19, by screening both the existing as well as novel drugs for their ability to alleviate symptoms and stem viral replication.

A number of world-class research groups have joined forces and received momentous funding grants to support their rapid search. For instance, the Wyss Institute at Harvard University together with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has established a drug testing pipeline with the help of USD 16 million from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The global crisis has stressed the need for virtual trials and leveraging technology and software solutions. Increasing adoption of machine learning-based platforms, artificial intelligence, and innovative trial designs are projected to transform the CRO landscape in the coming years. Biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical investments in novel and innovative therapies, for instance, regenerative medicine, are driving the R&D activity together with drug development services. Sponsors continue to seek expertise and services for various therapeutic areas.

COVID19 impact: Phase III clinical trial segment to exhibit a lucrative growth rate of 6.5%

Pandemic Impact

Post COVID Outlook

In April 2020, the National Institute of Health together with the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) launched a public-private partnership to accelerate treatment & vaccine options for Coronavirus.

CROs are offering effective solutions in accordance with EMA/FDA/HA guidelines and recommendations regarding the management of clinical trials in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on the clinical trial life cycle, and are likely to incorporate remote ways of working to mitigate disruption

The next normal is likely to see a greater emphasis on patient- and site-centricity as sponsors look to increase the relevance of their pipeline program for patients, sites, and caregivers while also reducing the trial burden on them.

The pandemic, for the first time in history, has resulted in the global disruption of traditional onsite clinical trials. Hence, the regulatory agencies such as the U.S. FDA, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and China’s National Medical Products Administration, and several other countries have issued guidelines related to the conduct of trials during the outbreak of coronavirus, and are in complete support of incorporating virtual services.

Companies will continue to seek more regulatory advice in the recovery phase-on missing data, telemedicine, remote monitoring, home nursing, data privacy, and more. However, as companies push to accelerate product development and approvals in devices, vaccines, and therapies for COVID-19, they are likely to engage even more intensively with regulatory agencies.


In addition to collaborations, key players are in the process of acquiring other CROs to gain leverage. For instance, in 2016, Charles River Laboratory International, Inc. acquired WIL Research for nearly USD 585 million. This acquisition is expected to help the company gain a foothold in the healthcare sector, particularly in the early-stage drug discovery business.

Type Insights

Based on type, the clinical segment dominated the market and accounted for the largest revenue share of 76.7% in 2020. The share is attributed to the rising number of biologics, the need for personalized medicines, and orphan drugs, and the demand for advanced technologies. Factors such as technological evolution, globalization of clinical trials, and demand for CROs to conduct clinical trials are further projected to drive growth.

Outsourcing of Phase III clinical trials to healthcare CROs generated the highest revenue in 2020 due to the fact that they are one of the most expensive stages of a clinical trial; approximately 90.0% of the expenses occurred during the clinical development of a drug stems from this phase.

The segment of preclinical studies is projected to witness a rapid growth rate of 8.3% during the forecast period. Increase in the number of preclinical trials involving large molecules and the increasing need to curb R&D expense is expected to contribute to the growing demand for quality preclinical CRO, thereby contributing to market growth.

Service Insights

The segment of clinical monitoring led the healthcare Contract Research Organization (CRO) market and accounted for more than 18.0% share of revenue in 2020. It is also anticipated to maintain its position over the forecast period. This may be attributed to the increasing number of clinical trials and the need to monitor those studies that are creating more demand for the services.

Clinical research is being outsourced to CROs over the past decade due to various reasons such as cost-effectiveness and technical expertise. The introduction of smart analytics and real-time data acquisition devices are estimated to improve clinical monitoring data in the healthcare sector. Real-time data acquisition related to drug safety and toxicity enables early identification of trial errors and enables timely rectifications such as trial re-design or termination, thereby propelling segment growth.

Global healthcare CRO market share, by service, 2020 (%)

The regulatory/medical affairs segment is anticipated to witness the fastest growth rate of 11.1% over the forecast period. The outsourcing for regulatory affairs is expanding rapidly due to the increase in R&D activities, clinical trial applications, product registration, and drug pipeline. The increasing demand to obtain approval for new products, maintain compliance, and doing more with less is projected to support the market growth.

Regional Insights

Asia Pacific dominated the healthcare (Contract Research Organization) market with the largest revenue share of 42.0% in 2020. The region is also anticipated to grow at a rapid pace over the forecast period. This may be attributed to the high prevalence of chronic conditions, availability of diverse populations, easy patient recruitment and retention, and the establishment of regulations as per accepted standards.

Besides, favorable government support is also contributing to market growth. For instance, in February 2018, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) drafted new rules that are estimated to reduce the time required for approval to nearly 30-60 days, thus propelling the market growth.

In North America, the market for healthcare CRos held a substantial share in 2020, owing to the highest number of trials undertaken and outsourced in the region. In addition, growing government support for R&D activities through grants and funds to research institutes and companies has driven this regional market. For instance, in 2018, the U.S government invested USD 194.2 billion in medical and health R&D.

Key Companies & Market Share Insights

In addition to offering improved services, healthcare contract research organizations are in the process of collaborating to promote their services at a global level. For instance, in October 2019, Parexel expanded its collaboration with the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS), the first and only global organization completely devoted to representing the interest of clinical research sites. The company participated as a Site Engagement Partner and led numerous significant initiatives dedicated to improving the experience of the patient in clinical trials.

Besides, to keep the clinical trials going in the current pandemic, market players are adopting various models specifically virtual clinical trials. For instance, PRA is now conducting virtual trials for their clients currently counting above 40 virtual and hybrid trials worldwide, totaling over a million patients in over 30 countries. Some of the prominent players in the healthcare Contract Research Organization (CRO) market include:

  • IQVIA Holdings Inc.

  • Covance Inc.

  • Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC

  • Parexel International Corporation

  • Charles River Laboratories International, Inc.

  • ICON, plc

  • Medidata Solutions, Inc.

  • Syneos Health

  • Pharmaron

  • GVK Biosciences Private Limited

  • Wuxi AppTec


  • PRA Health Sciences

  • CTI Clinical Trial & Consulting

Healthcare Contract Research Organization Market Report Scope

Report Attribute


Market size value in 2021

USD 42.3 billion

Revenue forecast in 2028

USD 66.0 billion

Growth Rate

CAGR of 6.6% from 2021 to 2028

Base year for estimation


Historical data

2016 - 2019

Forecast period

2021 - 2028

Quantitative units

Revenue in USD Million and CAGR from 2021 to 2028

Report coverage

Revenue forecast, company ranking, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends

Segments covered

Type, service, region

Regional scope

North America; Europe; Asia Pacific; Latin America; Middle East & Africa

Country scope

U.S.; Canada; U.K.; Germany; France; Italy; Spain; Switzerland; Belgium; Netherlands; Austria; India; China; Taiwan; Japan; Korea (republic); Australia; Indonesia; Malaysia; Singapore; Thailand; Brazil; Mexico; Argentina; Colombia; Chile; South Africa; Saudi Arabia; UAE; Iran; Israel; Egypt

Report coverage

Revenue forecast, company share, competitive landscape, growth factors and trends

Key companies profiled

IQVIA HOLDINGS INC.; Covance Inc.; Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC; PAREXEL INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION; CHARLES RIVER LABORATORIES INTERNATIONAL, INC.; ICON, plc; Medidata Solutions, Inc.; Syneos Health; Pharmaron; GVK Biosciences Private Limited; Wuxi AppTec; MEDPACE HOLDINGS, INC.; PRA Health Sciences; CTI Clinical Trial & Consulting

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Segments Covered in the Report

This report forecasts revenue growth at global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the latest industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2016 to 2028. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global healthcare contract research organization market report on the basis of type, service, and region:

  • Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2028)

    • Drug Discovery

      • Target Validation

      • Lead Identification

      • Lead Optimization

    • Pre-clinical

    • Clinical

      • Phase I Trial Services

      • Phase II Trial Services

      • Phase III Trial Services

      • Phase IV Trial Services

  • Service Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2028)

    • Project Management/Clinical Supply Management

    • Data Management

    • Regulatory/Medical Affairs

    • Medical Writing

    • Clinical Monitoring

    • Quality Management/ Assurance

    • Bio-statistics

    • Investigator Payments

    • Laboratory

    • Patient and site Recruitment

    • Technology

    • Others

  • Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2016 - 2028)

    • North America

      • U.S.

      • Canada

    • Europe

      • U.K.

      • Germany

      • France

      • Spain

      • Italy

      • Switzerland

      • Belgium

      • Netherlands

      • Austria

    • Asia Pacific

      • India

      • China

      • Taiwan

      • Japan

      • Korea (Republic)

      • Australia

      • Indonesia

      • Malaysia

      • Singapore

      • Thailand

    • Latin America

      • Brazil

      • Mexico

      • Argentina

      • Colombia

      • Chile

    • Middle East & Africa

      • South Africa

      • Saudi Arabia

      • UAE

      • Iran

      • Israel

      • Egypt

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