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Global comparator sourcing in emerging markets

Updated: Jan 26

Thinking of adding emerging markets to your global comparator network? Learn more about the implications of this in our most recent blog

As clinical trials span countless countries, global comparator sourcing from emerging markets, such as Asia, has become increasingly appealing. However, this approach brings with it numerous risks (as well as benefits) for clinical trial supply companies.

Partnering with a business such as CSI, which has an established global network of suppliers, will go a long way to minimising these risks. Here, we delve into the considerations when looking to take comparator sourcing to emerging markets.


Partly why global comparator strategies look to source from emerging markets is due to the cost of the drugs. In most cases, they are cheaper than ones in more established regions, such as Europe.

While the initial cost of the drugs can be cheaper, the cost of transportation can be higher, depending on the destination. Taking the clinical trial close to where the drugs are being transported from will mitigate some of those costs – but if not, you will need to calculate the total cost compared to buying in regions closer to the delivery site.

By partnering with CSI for your clinical trial, we can calculate the costs associated with global sourcing from both emerging and established markets, allowing you to take the correct approach.


As emerging markets are often on the other side of the world from Europe and North America, delivery times can be longer. You will need to account for this in your global comparator strategy.

We recognise that delivery times are paramount to a clinical trial, which is why our global network has never failed to deliver drugs for a clinical trial on time.


Increasing demand for comparators caused in part by COVID-19 has led to a shortage of supply. Therefore, alternatives must be developed to reduce the risk it can have on your comparator sourcing strategy.

A viable alternative is looking to source drugs from emerging markets. Of course, there is no guarantee that the correct ones are available in these alternative locations, but it is an option that needs to be considered. Our global network at CSI includes emerging markets partly for this reason.

Drug safety

Clinical trials used to be considered a risky endeavour in emerging markets due to the possibility of lower quality and/or counterfeit drugs. In recent years, however, there has been more transparency from governments within these emerging markets. They recognise the missed opportunity of not having suitable drugs for clinical trials, so they have enacted regulations to combat this.

With over 25 years of experience supplying clinical trials, we ensure that every drug we supply is of excellent quality, regardless of where they are sourced from.


Understanding the regulatory requirements are paramount when sourcing from emerging markets. You should know in detail the required paperwork needed to import and export from these markets so you can avoid delays at customs. Nevertheless, you should still factor customs inspections and temperature excursions into your comparator sourcing strategy.

Countries in emerging markets will also have different customs duties and taxes, such as VAT, which will need to be factored into your budget.

At CSI, we have an established global network, meaning we expert knowledge of global sourcing, whether that is from established or emerging markets.

While our headquarters are in London, we operate in the UK, Germany, Japan and the USA. We leverage our global network and country-specific expertise to source comparator drugs from audited suppliers, originators and dedicated wholesalers in Europe, the USA, Latin America and the Asia Pacific (APAC) while maintaining regulatory compliance.

Contact us to discuss how we source comparators globally to ensure the successful supply of your clinical trials.


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