The terms CRO and CMO are abbreviations for the industry sectors Contract Research Organisation and Contract Manufacturing Organisation. These are two key types of company who support the Pharmaceutical and / or Biotechnology in the form of outsourced services. The type of company is determined as either a CRO or CMO based upon the services they provide their clients and generally are split between Research & Development or Manufacturing.

Sometimes the term CDMO is also used which is a Contract Development & Manufacturing Organisation who is a company who provide a complete comprehensive service from research to commercial manufacture.

Contract Research Organisation (CRO)

These types of companies can provide a broad range of services including:
  • Drug Discovery and Development
  • Biopharmaceutical Development
  • Assay Development
  • Clinical Research
  • Preclinical Research
  • Pharmacovigiliance
CRO companies can vary tremendously in size based upon the types of services which they offer and the markets which they support. These can range from large full service international providers to smaller more niche organisations.

Contract Manufacturing Organisation (CMO)

These types of companies can split their services in to two main activities:
  • Primary manufacturing and / or
  • Secondary manufacturing
Primary manufacturing involves the synthesis of drug substance (active ingredients) and secondary manufacturing is the formulation of the drug substance in to the final drug product. CMO companies can specialise on a range of dosage forms including solid dose (tablets & capsules), injectables, topical formulations, steriles etc.

In recent times the demand for outsourced services has steadily increased year on year. This has seen a key focus on talent across CROs and CMOs. This has been the case as by outsourcing certain functions to a service provider, clients have been able to manage their internal resources and costs more efficiently. Making the CRO / CMO relationship more of a strategic partnership.

What does a CRO do?

A contract research organisation (CRO) provides research services – such as assay development or drug discovery – on a contractual basis. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies may outsource work to a CRO in order to reduce costs and complete tasks that they wouldn’t be able to do ‘in house’.

What is the difference between a CRO and a pharmaceutical company?

Whereas a pharmaceutical company is usually focused on innovation, working for a CRO means doing the work that your clients ask of you. A contract research organisation tends to make for a faster-paced and potentially more stressful working environment, but this is usually reflected in the salaries – you may be able to earn more working for a CRO than at a similar level in a pharma company.

Working for a CRO is great if you want to take on a wide variety of different projects, whereas a pharmaceutical company job will generally give you more opportunities to specialise in a particular area of interest.

How does contract manufacturing work?

A pharmaceutical company will often outsource the work of manufacturing drugs to a contract manufacturing organisation (CMO). This may involve synthesising the drug’s active ingredients (primary manufacturing) or producing the final product (secondary manufacturing), which may take the form of a tablet, capsule, ointment, injectable, etc.
Key Skill Sets across these sectors include:
We are experienced and have a passion for supporting all jobs across CRO / CMO industries and would welcome anybody interested in exploring new roles in these fields to get in touch to see how we can help you with you next steps.