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Pharma cuts mean more expertise for CROs

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In the wake of Big Pharma layoffs, CROs are on the hunt for workers with specialized knowledge of drug R&D.

CROs are snatching up experienced clinical trials experts from pharma. The organizations are growing in size and expertise while pharma is cutting employees.

Over the past 10 years, CROs have raised their levels of services and become more sophisticated operations. They're becoming the place where expertise resides, said John Lewis, vice president of public affairs at the Association of Clinical Research Organizations, in an interview with FierceCRO. In fact, 2010 marked the first time employment at CROs exceeded those at major pharmas on the clinical side, according to a study conducted by Tufts CSDD. Some 46,550 worked in clinical at CROs and 41,275 worked in clinical at major pharmas.

"It's not purely the number of employees, but it's the type of expertise that CROs have been bringing in," Lewis said. "Part of the growth is in very high level scientific and medical expertise and high level drug development expertise."

In PricewaterhouseCoopers' 15th Annual Global CEO Survey, 43% of surveyed biopharma CEOs said they "outsourced a business process function" within the past 12 months, compared with 35% for all industries, according to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.

Roche ($RHHBY) will slash 1,000 jobs by the end of 2013. Novartis ($NVS) will cut 2,000 nationwide. And AstraZeneca ($AZN) will eliminate 7,300 employees worldwide this year. Companies such as Sanofi ($SNY), Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Pfizer ($PFE) have led the way in reaching out to CROs for help amid tight budgets and layoffs.

- read the Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News story

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