Top CROs in Europe

Data from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations shows that R&D expenditure in clinical research amounted to 39,000 million euros across the European Union. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry is regarded as one of the critical development sectors for the European economy.

Both the pharmaceutical industry in general and European CROs, in particular, enjoy a common regulatory framework. Because of this, many CROs can provide multi-site or multi-country trials under more beneficial conditions.

Largest CROs in Europe

The European CRO Federation lists over 282 companies across 19 countries. Some of its most prominent players include:


Founded in Dublin in 1990, Icon provides start-to-end trial outsourcing industries. Their offices span 37 countries.


Although the PPD network is based in the United States, they keep a robust presence across Europe. They handle clinical operations and consultancies for pharmaceutical companies and government organisations.


PSI is a Swiss CRO that operates in 50 countries around the world. They focus mainly on patient recruitment for infectious diseases and oncology.


Thanks to its total budget of over 3.1 Billion US$, PRA can offer clinical trial development services for different therapeutic areas. This includes immunology, metabolic diseases, neurology, oncology and respiratory diseases.


As one of Luxemburg's largest life sciences companies, Eurofins specialises in product testing across a variety of specialities.


Latvia-based Dokumeds specialises in feasibility studies, patient recruitment consultancies, and trial rescue for multi-country trials. They are present across Europe, North American, and South Africa.


Based in the UK, Ergomed has been providing clinical operation outsourcing for over 24 years. In addition, they are highly experienced with post-marketing and pharmacovigilance studies.

Crown CRO

This Finnish CRO keeps a smaller team than its competitors, but its service portfolio spans Phases I through IV of clinical development.

Services Offered by CROs in Europe

Most CROs in Europe can provide full-service clinical trials, especially for Phase II and III studies. The EU's regulatory landscape increases the demand for specific services, which in turn, makes them easier to outsource on a standalone basis:

  • Phase I trials
  • Bioequivalence
  • Data management and protection
  • Regulatory consultancies

Choosing the Right CRO in Europe

Possibly the most significant predictor of success for a clinical trial is whether the CRO handling it has direct experience in similar studies. For this assessment, it is crucial to look beyond the subspecialty or their declared therapeutic expertise. 

Other vital similarities can be found in:

  • Site location
  • Protocol
  • Trial phase

Finally, the effect of chemistry and transparency should not be underestimated. For a sponsor and CRO to work well together, they must share a similar vision and values. Often, it pays to build this partnership slowly by encouraging repeat business throughout smaller projects.