Accessing Clinical Trial Support: Choosing the Right Service Provider

Accessing Clinical Trial Support: Choosing the Right Service Provider

By Michael Roder, Director, Global Solutions at KellyOCG

Ensuring access to the right talent at the right time is crucial to Life Sciences organizations working to bring new drugs and biotechnology to market. Capability, expertise, value, and control are all important considerations for organizations moving through the lengthy development and approval process.

The average cost of bringing a drug to market in the US is $2.6 billion and the process takes between 10 and 15 years according to industry body, PhRMA. Clinical trials are also a key part of the journey to bring life-altering treatments to patients around the world. It’s little wonder, then, that Life Sciences organizations need to get it right when it comes to talent and support.  

Types of Service Provider

When we look at outsourcing providers in the clinical trial space there are three key models to consider:

Contingent Staffing or MSPs (Managed Service Providers)

This model offers access to specialized talent whenever and wherever an organization needs it most. This allows organizations to retain a high level of control and to maintain full oversight of the management of the trial itself.

FSPs (Functional Service Providers)

This option provides organizations with a highly customizable service that allows them to build cost-effective plug-and-play solutions with access to a wide variety of functions. The customer retains a medium level of control with FSP expertise becoming an extension of their existing team.

 CROs (Contract Research Organization) or Full Outsourcing

This model allows a Life Sciences organization to outsource every aspect of the clinical trial process and quickly tap into expertise and resources that are not currently available or accessible in-house.  


Today, FSP and CRO are the most common choices for Life Sciences organizations looking for external support with clinical trials. FSPs, however, have increased in popularity over recent years due to their unique combination of flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

FSPs allow customers to engage with several vendors with a high degree of specialism in areas that are critical to the success of a trial, from data analysis to operational and clinical roles. This allows organizations to build expert partnerships. FSPs also provide a greater level of control and insight compared to traditional CRO arrangements and, given the amount of investment and time that goes into development, it’s unsurprising that many pharma and biotech organizations are choosing this path.

However, FSP arrangements work most effectively when there is an existing infrastructure in place. For Life Sciences organizations without experience in a particular geography or specialism or biotech start-ups who are looking to scale up quickly, CROs provide the ability to access all of the resources and expertise they need in one place. CROs also remain popular with some of the largest global Life Sciences organizations, who are able to outsource their full R&D process and enjoy economies of scale.

Ultimately, there is no wrong answer when it comes to choosing a clinical trial service provider, as long as they are the right fit for an organization’s current needs and specialization.

Choosing the Right Provider

Whether a Life Sciences organization is looking for targeted support or a complete outsourcing solution, it’s important that they consider, not only the capabilities and experience of the service provider they choose, but also the values and relationship they hope to share. This provider will become an extension of their team and a strong partnership based on shared goals is essential to long-term success.

To discuss this topic further with the author or to learn more about our life sciences and healthcare expertise, contact us today.