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Largest CROs in the World in 2021

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In 2020, a global outbreak of the new crown epidemic has disrupted the business activities of almost all companies, and the drug R&D and production of pharmaceutical companies is no exception. As a CRO/CDMO company serving pharmaceutical companies, its market share and global ranking have also changed when the global market is chaotic.

Top 10 Global CRO Rankings in 2021

Corporation2020 Revenue/$100 MillionIncrease From 20192020 Headcount
6Syneos Health44.2
9Charles River29.211.50%17000

Medicilon is a professional pharmaceutical preclinical integrated R&D service contract research organization (CRO), providing a full range of one-stop new drug R&D services, in compliance with Chinese and international filing standards, to pharmaceutical companies and research institutions around the world. Our services cover the entire process of preclinical new drug research, including drug discovery, pharmacology research and preclinical research. Our drug discovery services include chemical synthesis, compound activity screening and optimization, structural biology research, protein target validation, etc.; Pharmacological researches include process research of API and formulation, quality standards and stability research, etc.; Preclinical researches include pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, toxicological safety evaluation, etc.

Note: ① This list covers CROs in a broad sense, and their business areas cover preclinical research, clinical trials, pharmaceutical development, and commissioned production of raw materials and drugs (CDMO and CMO) related to new drug research and development; ② The two data of ICON+PRA are directly related to each other. Plus; ③Lonza’s revenue is CHF 4.5 billion, and the exchange rate is 1.1 to convert to US dollars; ④Catalent’s fiscal year is July 2019 to June 2020; ⑥Parexel has been delisted since it was acquired by a consortium in 2017. Only the revenue announced in 2018 is here for reference.

Judging from the TOP10 list, the two top CRO companies in the world each have a revenue of more than 10 billion US dollars, widening a huge gap with the players behind them, and their dominant position is unbreakable. ICON's acquisition of PRA has become a major event in the industry, which has greatly improved the ranking of the new company's business scale, and it has risen to the third in the world in one fell swoop.

Syneos is the only company with shrinking performance in the list (Parexel is unknown), and WuXi is the only Chinese element in the list, with a leading growth rate and a steady rise in ranking. Mainly because under the new crown virus epidemic, China was the first to restore order and resume work and production, and a large number of orders were transferred to China. Charles River, who once abandoned the acquisition of WuXi, has now been surpassed by WuXi.

The companies that also benefited from the new crown virus epidemic include Labcorp and Catalent, respectively, in the testing business and vaccine production business, while the companies with a large proportion of clinical research business were greatly affected by the epidemic, but they generally recovered in the fourth quarter of 2020.

This article briefly introduces the top 10 CRO companies in the world.

NO.1 LabCorp

The main business of LabCorp is clinical diagnosis. After acquiring Covance and Chiltern, it has entered the field of drug research and development in an all-round way, whether it is preclinical research or clinical research. One of the global leaders. After these two major mergers and acquisitions, the company has become the world's largest CRO.

In 2020, company revenue was approaching $14 billion, a 21% increase from the previous year. Affected by the new crown virus epidemic, most industries and companies around the world are facing varying degrees of impact, but it is very beneficial to the company's diagnostic business. The COVID-19 testing business contributed as much as 24.1% to the full-year 2020 results.

The company has a large and complete laboratory system not only in North America, but also around the world. In 2020, the total number of global employees will reach 75,000.


Although IQVIA is slightly lower than Labcorp in terms of performance and volume, the industry generally believes that IQVIA's influence is greater than Labcorp, which has to mention the company's predecessor.

In 2016, Quintiles and IMS Health merged to form IQVIA, which became the most important event in the industry that year. These two companies are the leader and the gold standard in their respective subdivisions. Such a powerful alliance will inevitably become a giant. It is only because Labcorp has made a strong entry into the field of drug research and development at about the same time and has to resign. However, in the segmented field, each has its own unique advantages.

In 2020, the company's revenue was US$11.36 billion, an increase of only 2.% over the previous year, mainly due to the slow progress of clinical research due to the impact of the new coronavirus epidemic, especially in North America. Fortunately, various businesses have recovered significantly in the fourth quarter, and it can be expected that the growth in 2021 will be better than that in 2020.

In 2020, IQVIA employs 70,000 people worldwide.


PRA's revenue in 2020 was $3.183 billion, up 3.8% from the previous year; while ICON's revenue in 2020 was $2.797 billion, down 0.3% from the previous year. The two companies employ 19,000 and 16,000 people, respectively.

In February 2021, ICON announced the acquisition of PRA for $12 billion. The new company will grow by more than 10% in the first year and grow by more than 20% in the future.

These two were originally in the top 10 in the world. Relatively speaking, ICON is slightly smaller than PRA, but this does not prevent ICON from acquiring PRA in a way that small fish eat big fish. After the merger, the new company came to the world's third largest position in one fell swoop.

NO.4 Lonza (Lonza)

Lonza is undisputedly the world's largest CDMO company.

Lonza Group operates two major businesses, of which Lonza Specialty Ingredients (LSI) focuses on microbial control of personal care products and has a relatively small volume within the group. The Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology and Nutrition business (LPBN) is Lonza's main source of revenue, covering from early discovery, custom development to the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and innovative dosage forms, known to the industry as the CDMO business.

In 2020, the company's revenue was CHF 4.5 billion, an increase of 12.5%. The company also decided to divest the relatively small special ingredients business and make structural adjustments to make the business more focused and improve transparency, productivity and operational efficiency.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Lonza leveraged its global production capacity to provide a full range of development and production services for Moderna's COVID-19 RNA vaccine (mRNA-1273), with an estimated annual production capacity of 1 billion doses.


PPD, founded in 1985 by Fred Eshelman, Ph.D., had its first IPO in 1996. In 2011, the company was taken private for $3.9 billion. In 2020, it will be listed again on NASDAQ in the United States.

It has to be said that PPD's actions in China are very big, including the completion of two mergers and acquisitions in China in 2009, the acquisition of Igus and Baonuo, which were quite large in China at that time. Among them, Baonuo founder John V. Oyler founded BeiGene in 2010.

PPD's 2020 revenue was $4.68 billion, a 16.1% increase.

NO.6 Syneos Health

In 2017, INC Research and Inventiv Health merged to form Syneos Health, which once climbed to the third position in the world.

In 2020, the company's revenue was US$4.42 billion, and it was the only company on the list that was affected by the new crown virus epidemic and caused negative growth in performance, and the ranking also fell all the way.

NO.7 WuXi

Although WuXi Biologics and WuXi AppTec are two independently operated listed companies, considering that WuXi Biologics originated from WuXi AppTec and the chairman of the two companies is the same person, the two companies are called WuXi here. Combined calculation.

WuXi’s business covers all aspects of new drug research and development, almost all-encompassing and omnipotent, and it is already a global giant. Although it has not yet become the global leader, the influence that everyone feels is undoubtedly insurmountable by peers.

In 2020, WuXi’s consolidated revenue was approximately US$3.26 billion, an increase of 31.4% over 2019. The number of employees reached 32,000. Whether it is revenue or personnel, the growth rate is far ahead of its peers. And judging from the development trend in recent years, it will still maintain rapid growth.

The negative impact of the new coronavirus outbreak on the company is small in scope, mild in scope and short in time. On the contrary, the epidemic has a significant effect on performance to some extent. On the one hand, the company has undertaken a number of new coronavirus-related R&D and production projects. On the other hand, the raging overseas epidemic has caused some orders to be transferred to China.

NO.8 Catalent

Founded in 2007, Catalent specializes in the manufacture and packaging of formulations, including oral, injectable and respiratory delivery methods. In fact, the company's history can be traced back to Scherer, founded in 1933, which developed rotary compression equipment for softgels, which explains Catalent's global leadership in softgel production. In 2014, the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Catalent's full fiscal year is unlike any other. Most are in accordance with the calendar year, while Catalent is from July to June of the following year, such as fiscal year 2020 is from July 2019 to June 2020. The company's operating income for fiscal year 2020 was US$3.094 billion, a year-on-year increase of 22.89%.

The new coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is produced by Catalent.

NO.9 Charles River

The company's business has three main parts: Research Models and Services (RMS), Discovery and Safety Assessment (DSA), and Manufacturing Support, which are simply animal models, safety evaluation and production. .

The company's revenue in 2017 was $2.92 billion, an increase of nearly 11.5% from the previous year. Has approximately 17,000 employees worldwide.

NO.10 Parexel

In 2017, British private equity firm Pamplona Capital Management announced the completion of its $5 billion acquisition of Parexel. Parexel was subsequently delisted. Its performance has not been announced since. Here we still refer to the data released in 2018, that is, 2.5 billion US dollars and about 19,000 employees. It stands to reason that both numbers have increased over the past three years, but the specifics are unknown.

In 2021, the company decided to divest the information system and medical imaging business, which also includes the clinical trial management system, electronic data collection system and registration application management system. The new company, Calyx, has 2,300 employees. As a result, Parexel's revenue and scale will shrink.

In addition to traditional clinical research, Parexel is characterized by the preparation of registration application documents and the ability to communicate with the drug administration department. The reason why it has such a feature is that Jingding has a self-developed registration application management system (eCTD software), and it has established a strong registration application team, of which more than 100 have been in the mainstream pharmaceutical market. Reviewers who have worked in government departments.

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