Research and Markets has published an $1,800 report on the contract research industry in China. The company estimates that there is a $2.6 billion Chinese market for research services. The bulk of the work appears to be nonclinical and laboratory-related. While there are almost 500 contract research organizations (CROs) operating in China, the country has just ten firms of significant size. We can’t tell whether the report addresses the significant regulatory delays that make China a second-tier choice for time-sensitive trials. Here’s a table of contents.

This blog post reviews a few recent CRO acquisitions. Outsourcing clinical trials may be more attractive to wealthy investors than putting money into developing drugs. We're not sure if that's good news, since the destinies of research firms and their outsourcing partners appear to be closely linked.

There is new obesity data compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control. Here’s a story in USA Today. The south and midwestern regions are particularly afflicted, with twelve states having 30 percent of citizens classified as obese. Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity, with one obese resident for every three citizens. Nationally, the rate is similar, with 34 percent of the U.S. population classified as obese. That works out to more than 70 million people. The epidemiologists are sounding another round of pleading, please-listen-to-us warnings. “We're going to have to see changes in behavior before we see changes in the prevalence of obesity," says Bettylou Sherry of the CDC.

BioClinica reported quarterly financial results. Service revenues rose 8.7 percent to $16.9 million. Profits rose 129 percent to $924,000. Imaging is one strong area, but peripheral products related to clinical trial management and integrated randomization and drug supply management are attracting new customers. “By providing best-in-class combined technology and service solutions and a clear line of site to a unified clinical research solution, we are getting a tremendous reception from the entire continuum of pharma and medical device companies,” said president and CEO Mark Weinstein.

The Ernst & Young accounting firm has a report about the biotechnology industry in 2011. It’s a largely hopeful document, albeit with the usual grand verbiage of corporate white papers. For those already working in the industry, there are few actionable insights. On the plus side, there are some nifty charts purporting to show biotech research pipelines in various parts of the world. The E&Y bean counters say that while the overall biotech climate is robust, large and established firms are responsible for the majority of scientific activity. And despite the numbers in the headlines for deals and collaborations, the report says, “there is now a widening gap between the high total values being announced and the cash actually flowing in to fund biotech innovation.” Here’s a PDF copy.

The lightly-regulated medical device industry will face additional scrutiny for the mobile software applications that are paired with its products. There is a new draft guidance document from FDA for software associated with selected medical devices. “The Agency has formally classified certain types of software applications that meet the definition of a device and, through classification, identified specific regulatory requirements that apply to these devices and their manufacturers,” the document states. The text signals that Washington may be aware of imaging or diagnostic functionality of some smartphones and tablets, and will be assessing such software in due course.

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