Insights from more than 150 global drug development leaders illuminate industry trends, challenges and sentiments

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As the clinical trial landscape evolves, drug developers are faced with novel challenges and changes in study recruitment, trial size and structure, and more. The adoption of new innovations, strategies, and technologies offers opportunities to address persistent challenges and develop suitable approaches for the future.

The future for drug developers is defined by how effectively they adopt innovative strategies and new technologies, while navigating industry challenges and complexities.

That’s why the PPD clinical research business of Thermo Fisher Scientific surveyed 150 leaders at biotech and pharmaceutical organizations around the globe to assess trends in drug discovery and development. Respondents shared the therapeutic areas in their pipelines, barriers to bringing drugs to market, innovations that are driving transformation, and attitudes toward key topics such as outsourcing, patient recruitment, diversity, decentralized trials, and more.

The findings reflect the growing importance of patient diversity and the increasing complexity of trials, with geography and company size affecting sponsors’ goals, greatest difficulties, and chosen approaches for growth. Respondents illuminated the challenges, opportunities, and innovations affecting their drug development processes, the shifting areas of interest, and varying levels of optimism regarding patient recruitment.

Five major trends shaping the drug development industry:

  1. Interest in AI is on the rise
    While innovative trial design led the way as the top trend driving transformation in clinical trials, artificial intelligence (AI) soared to second place. Selected by 41% of respondents, AI rose 17 percentage points from our 2022 survey.

  2. Recruiting qualified patients remains a pain point
    55% of respondents reported patient recruitment in clinical trials as the top challenge facing their organization, for the second year in a row, followed closely by increasing trial complexity.

  3. Perception of the drug development timeline varies by company size
    Across the industry, somewhat more sponsors say that clinical development timelines are extending. Biotech organizations, in particular, are feeling the pinch, as 51% report their timelines are longer now than they were two years ago.

  4. Decentralized trials have evolved from a trend to an expectation
    The prevalence of decentralized trials continues to expand, and in two years, 90% of participants expect to be using decentralized elements for at least some of their trials.

  5. Functional service provider (FSP) outsourcing is growing at a faster rate than its full-service counterpart.
    FSP use increased for 41% of respondents compared to two years ago, while only 29% reported increased full-service engagements.

In our second annual report, you’ll go beyond the data to learn what these insights mean for drug developers across the globe, and how you can prepare to successfully navigate the evolving drug development landscape. Discover what industry leaders are facing today, and how their outlook on pharmaceutical research and development is pushing the industry forward.

Download the full report for more global pharmaceutical industry trends and to learn:

  • Differences shaping the industry by geography
  • Preferences on outsourcing and partnership models
  • How biotech and biopharma companies are approaching key issues differently
  • Changes in sentiment and trends in drug development from 2022 to 2023

Stay ahead of the curve with our experts’ takes on how these insights will influence the future of the drug development industry, and get our full 2023 findings at