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Pharma or CRO … ?

Have you ever wondered if you are better suited to a Pharma company or a CRO? This is one of the life sciences industry’s big questions, and many people often ask it when considering furthering their career. Let us explain the basic differences.

Jobs in Pharma - Pharma or CRO ...?

Sponsor or service provider?

The main difference between a pharma company and a CRO is of being a sponsor in the first case, and a service provider in the latter.

Furthermore, pharmas and CROs offer very different types of work environments and opportunities for boosting your career. If you feel better working in a dynamic environment and a fast-paced company while being ready to work on the service provider side of the business, then CRO may by a perfect match for you. However, if you prefer a more stable environment and more predictability, a pharma company would be a better fit.

Working on the sponsor side often means being involved in one large project or a small number of projects. It also means working in an environment with long-term goals, while working for a CRO means – generally speaking – a variety of projects with different sponsors ranging from small biotech to big pharma companies.

Location matters

The answer also depends on where you live or where you plan to work. This is because in some countries where pharma companies develop their products and have their business decision centers, they are undoubtedly perceived as more attractive employers than CROs – this is especially the case in the US and Western Europe. However, in some countries where CROs have larger clinical operations compared to pharma companies, they may offer more opportunities and may be viewed as a more attractive employer, and this is the case in most Central and Eastern European countries.

Finally, there is a different approach in terms of requirements and preferences related to interpersonal skills in both cases. CROs value dynamic and business-oriented individuals while pharma companies may be a better match for more introverted or science-oriented people.

This is obviously just a general guideline, as both types of companies vary a lot by size, specialty or management culture.