Between its low clinical trial costs, spike in regulatory initiatives, and high disease incidence, everyone’s talking about the Asia Pacific (APAC) as the big hotspot in clinical trial activity today. We include ourselves in this, having recently posted an analysis of the robustness of the APAC market. But a common misinterpretation of this state of affairs is that growth in one area must come at the expense of growth elsewhere. Europe, in particular, has been the subject of gloomy forecasts by clinical research commentators, with numerous articles equating the rise of APAC with a perceived decline in European clinical research.
But clinical research isn’t a zero-sum game – we all share the same goal of advancing medical discovery to save human lives and improve public health. And Europe has, in fact, been growing, with a 19% increase in the total volume of clinical trials on the continent between 2010 and 2017. In a World Health Organization assessment of the clinical trial markets of 10 European countries, all but two had positive compound annual growth rates over the same period.
What does the future hold for European clinical research?
Beyond the growth European clinical research has experienced in recent years, a number of circumstances create the conditions for continued expansion of the market. These include:
Population trends – As the average age of EU citizens slowly increases, disease incidence could increase with it, making Europe a more fertile region for patient recruitment.
Action and innovation – Regulatory initiatives and a robust engine of healthcare-related innovation in certain countries, particularly Poland and France, could lead to a spike in clinical trial activity.
Growing investment – Research and development spending in the European pharma and biotech sectors has grown in recent years, with much of that spend directed toward Phase I clinical trials.
Will Europe capitalize on its potential?
The potential for optimism in European clinical research is undeniable. Still, the fact remains that APAC is growing the fastest – and one of the biggest reasons for this is the comparatively high costs of conducting clinical trials in Europe. With that in mind, as we watch the market to see if researchers capitalize on their opportunity for continued and heightened growth, we’re hoping to see increased adoption of the technology resources that are empowering researchers everywhere to reduce costs and timelines.
Will more European CROs embrace eSource, cut down on monitoring costs, and thus grow their business by offering study sponsors more competitively-priced services? From a patient engagement perspective, will organizations turn their attention to the budding eConsent revolution, and engage with the EMA to fully investigate the potential of mHealth technology for clinical data collection?
For Europe to refute, once and for all, the notion that its days as a clinical research leader are fading, it’ll be crucial to answer these questions.