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Clinical Research Organization Ranking

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The Clinical Research Organization (CRO) helps pharmaceutical manufacturers improve efficiency and speed throughout the clinical trial process. CRO is a service organization that supports pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the form of outsourcing drug research services (drugs and medical devices). They provide customers with the experience of transferring a new drug or device from the beginning to the FDA marketing authorization, and the pharmaceutical sponsor does not have to hire employees for these services.

Clinical research organizations provide support for pharmaceutical companies in the R&D phase by providing outsourcing for several basic stages in the clinical trial process.

Clinical research organizations play an important role in R&D programs in the pharmaceutical industry.

1. Covance


Established time: April 1996

Chief Executive Officer: Paul Kirchgraber, MD

Headquarters: Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Revenue: $11.55 billion

Number of employees: 50,000+ (2017)

Subsidiary: GlobalCare Clinical Trials, LLC

Parent company: LabCorp

Services: drug development non-clinical, pre-clinical, clinical and commercial services


Covance Inc is a global CRO that provides preclinical, clinical and commercial services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. It is the most extensive drug development company. The company is fully committed to advancing healthcare and providing real solutions.

Their unique perspectives stem from years of scientific expertise and accurate delivery of the world's largest drug development data, as well as their innovative technical solutions to help their customers determine new methods and prepare for future development challenges.

The company focuses on clinical research and provides services to assist drug development during the process from early research to clinical research authorized after supervision. In addition, they also provide laboratory testing services for the chemical/agrochemical industry. They are the market leader in toxicology services, central laboratory services, and discovery services, as well as the top providers of global phase III clinical trial management services.



Established time: February 1982

Founder: Dennis Gillings

CEO: Ali Busby

Headquarters: Durham, North Carolina, USA

Revenue: 11.093 billion US dollars

Number of employees: 67,0000+ (2019)

Subsidiaries: IMS Health, IQVIA Biotech LLC, Novasyte, LLC.

Services: Provide support services for pharmaceutical, biotech and medical companies and individuals


IQVIA was formed by the merger of Quintiles and IMS Health in 2016.

IQVIA focuses on using its IQVIA core platform to assist pharmaceutical companies and other medical institutions in innovating and maximizing opportunities. With clinical development, the company actually developed analysis and technical services to help the clinical industry commercialize its products

IQVIA is an international CRO that provides biopharmaceutical development, laboratory, analysis and consulting services for phase I-IV clinical trials.

IQVIA is a world leader in using data, technology, advanced analysis and expertise to help clients advance healthcare and human health. They have also promoted a more modern, effective and effective healthcare system and developed breakthrough solutions.

IQVIA uses human data science-the integration of data science, technology, and human science-to help clients solve existing needs and future opportunities.

3. Syneos Health


Established time: 1998

CEO: Alistair McDonald

Headquarters: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Revenue: US$4.676 billion

Number of employees: 24,000

Subsidiaries: Navicor Group, MDS Harris


Syneos Health provides clinical development and consulting services to the biopharmaceutical industry, and they provide services in more than 110 countries. It was formed by the merger of INC Research and inVentiv Health. They provide biopharmaceutical services in three areas-clinical development, commercialization and consulting.

Syneos is also a functional service provider covering areas such as biometrics, pharmacovigilance, and patient recruitment.

It is an end-to-end, fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions company that operates in different ways. At Syneos Health, all disciplines that bring new therapies to the market, from clinical to commercial, are collaborating to achieve consumer success. Their unique biopharmaceutical acceleration model provides value to small and medium-sized customers.

In addition to being a CRO and contract commercial organization, it is also the only fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions company.

4. Pharmaceutical Product Development


Established time: 1985

Founder: Fredric N Eshelman

CEO: David Simmons

Headquarters: Wilmington, North Carolina, USA

Revenue: US$4.031 billion

Number of employees: 24,000+ (2020)

Subsidiaries: Jaguar Holding Company II, PPD Japan KK

Services: Contract clinical research for pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, academic and government organizations; services include drug development, laboratories, and life cycle management.


The history of PPD is shaped by its continued progress in consistent quality and execution, extraordinary customer-oriented service, and accelerated overall clinical trial execution. 

They have offices in 46 countries. PPD applies cutting-edge technology, treatment proficiency, and a firm commitment to quality to help customers reduce the price and time curve of drug development, and optimize the provision of life-changing therapies to enhance the value of health.

The company focuses on 3 areas: drug development, laboratories, and life cycle management services. Their clients include pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, academic organizations, and government agencies.

PPD introduced a new patient registration model called PatientAdvantage, which claims to perform data-driven research to identify eligible individuals, thereby reducing the time and cost of conducting clinical trials.

PPD is the world's leading CRO, providing detailed comprehensive drug, laboratory and life cycle management services. Their customers include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic, and government companies.

5. PRA Health Sciences


Established time: 1976

CEO: Colin Shannon

Headquarters: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Revenue: US$3.066 billion

Number of employees: 17,000+



PRA Health Sciences is a global healthcare intelligence partner and has been rated as the world's leading CRO and ideal employer.

They help develop life-saving and life-improving drugs through comprehensive clinical development services, such as data monitoring, statistical analysis, clinical trial management, medical writing, and regulatory and drug development consulting.

The company was established as an anti-inflammatory drug research group. In 1982, it was renamed Pharmaceutical Research Associates Inc.

They provide a wide range of product development and data solutions for global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. They have offices in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Latin America, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East.

6.Icon plc


Established time: 1990

Founders: Ronan Lambert and Ronan Lambert

CEO: Steve Cutler

Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland

Revenue: $2.5958 million

Number of employees: 15,150

Subsidiaries: Icon Clinical Research Gmbh, MeDiNova Limited

Services: Provide services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries


ICON provides outsourced drug development services for biopharmaceutical, medical device, biosimilar and generic drug organizations.

It provides various consulting, development and commercialization services in 40 countries/regions; however, it is particularly focused on the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions.

Their goal is to help customers accelerate the development of drugs and devices that save lives and improve the quality of life.

Their clients include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical equipment and government and public health organizations. They focus on factors that are critical to customers-shorten time to market, reduce costs, and improve quality standards. Thye has been recognized as one of the world's leading CROs through several prestigious industry awards.

7. Charles River Laboratories


Established time: 1947

Founder: Dr. Henry L. Foster

CEO: James C. Foster

Headquarters: Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA

Revenue: $2.621 billion

Number of employees: 17,000 (2020)

Subsidiaries: WIL Research Laboratories, MPI Research Inc.


Charles River is passionate about its role in improving people's quality of life.

They have 90 offices around the world. Their strategic position is to coordinate global resources and apply multidisciplinary perspectives to solve unique product challenges. They focus on the timeliness and accuracy of each development stage.

They provide research models and outsource preclinical services for accelerated drug development.

They are an international supplier of solutions that advance the drug discovery and development process, providing leading products and services designed to enable their customers to bring drugs to the market faster and more effectively.

In addition, they are the market pioneer and innovator of endotoxin testing and created the next generation of endotoxin testing system called Endosafe Portable Testing System (Endosafe ®-PTS ™ ).

8. Parexel International Corporation


Established time: 1982

CEO: Jamie MacDonald

Headquarters: Waltham, Massachusetts, USA

Revenue: $2.411 billion

Number of employees: 18,900

Subsidiary: ExecuPharm Inc., Health Advances, LLC.

Services: clinical trial management, data management, medical writing, biostatistics, pharmacovigilance, regulatory consulting.


Parexel is an international CRO that provides biopharmaceutical and clinical trial management services for the clinical research field. They have offices in more than 51 countries.

They achieve this goal by providing a range of biopharmaceutical services that help clients around the world transform scientific exploration into new therapies.

They provide the most comprehensive drug development capabilities of any CRO in the world. Their global regulatory experience, phase I-IV clinical research services, integrated e-clinical technology and advanced commercial services are all collaborating to develop more efficiently and cost-effectively from start to finish.

The company focuses on developing cutting-edge new therapies to improve people's health. They provide a series of breakthrough biopharmaceutical development services to help customers around the world translate scientific discoveries into new treatments for patients.

9. WuXi Apptec


Established time: 2000

Founder: Li Ge

CEO: Ge Li

Headquarters: Shanghai, China

Revenue: $1.859 billion

Number of employees: 14,000

Subsidiaries: Cycle Solutions, Inc., Wuxi Biological Products Co., Ltd.

Services: Small molecule drug R&D and manufacturing, cell therapy and gene therapy, drug R&D and medical device testing, clinical services


WuXi AppTec's extensive and comprehensive services enable customers and partners in the global pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries to research, develop, discover, and produce innovative healthcare products quickly and efficiently.

They focus on reducing the time to discover and develop pharmaceutical and medical equipment.

WuXi AppTec covers the entire development cycle of small molecules, biologics, cell and gene therapy, and genomics. It supports biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the R&D process and commercialization phase. They have offices in 30 countries.

10. Medpace Holdings


Established time: 1992

Chief Executive Officer: Dr. August J. Troendle

Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Revenue: $861 million

Number of employees: 2,800 (2019)

Subsidiary: Medpace Australia Pty. Ltd

Services: Support services for pharmaceuticals and medical devices


Medpace provides full-service clinical trial outsourcing through its medical, regulatory and functional departments.

They provide treatment-focused, comprehensive, global strategies to achieve smooth execution and high-quality results.

Clinical development is more complex and scientific than in the past. Effective clinical trials require professional knowledge, experience, and disciplined teamwork.

It is a science-oriented international full-service clinical contract research organization that provides phase I-IV clinical development services for the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Medpace’s goal is to utilize local supervision and in-depth treatment in all major fields (such as oncology, cardiology, metabolic diseases, endocrinology, central nervous system and anti-oncology) through its highly scientific and specialized operating strategy Professional knowledge to promote the international development of safe and effective medical therapies.

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