Clinical trials environment in Canada

Canada captures 4% of global clinical trials, fourth in number of clinical trials sites, and is globally recognized for the quality and expertise of its research clinicians, many of whom are globally recognized for major medical discoveries and innovations, and its ability to conduct clinical research in complex therapeutic areas with diverse population bases.

Strong investments in Canadian clinical trials can be attributed to Canada's world-leading higher education system; its publicly-funded health care system known for quality; its internationally recognized networks and health charities dedicated to clinical trials in areas including cancer, cardiovascular, rheumatology.

Canada's competitiveness in clinical trials is also supported by strong government support in public research infrastructure including over $667 million investment by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in health research funding; as well as a world-class contract research sector with extensive capabilities in phase I-IV clinical trials. Canada's extensive network of academic health institutions and research centres, which support clinical research includes 17 medical schools, approximately 40 groupings of academic healthcare organizations and about 13,600 researchers

All major global pharmaceutical companies conduct a large portion of their clinical trials in Canada. For some of these companies, Canada is the number two or three location globally for clinical trials. In fact, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry has the second largest Canadian R&D expenditures intensity in 2015. As a result of Canada's world class clinical trials environment, leading multi-national pharmaceutical companies have made significant investments in Canadian clinical trial health research. Examples of recent investments at both the academic and industry level include:

  • In 2011, Roche Canada invested $190 million to establish a North American clinical trials coordinating centre and development site (one of six world-wide) in Mississauga, Ontario.
  • In 2012, Sanofi completed the world's longest and largest randomized clinical trial in pre-and-early diabetes in association with a Principal Investigator from the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) in Hamilton, Ontario.
  • In 2012, Bayer and the PHRI initiated the COMPASS trial, a Phase III trial for the prevention of major adverse cardiac events (estimated 20,000 patients in 25 countries).
  • In 2014, Servier Canada invested $17 million to establish a centre of excellence in clinical development in Laval, Quebec.

In order to improve the competitiveness of Canada's clinical trial environment, Canada continues to work to enhance the conditions for clinical trial in Canada. Major initiatives and supports for clinical trials include:

  • National and regional efforts to make Research Ethics Boards more efficient, including through the development of a national standard in this area.
  • The June 4, 2015 launch of the Canadian Clinical Trials Asset Map which aims to market Canada as a leading destination for clinical trials in the global marketplace by providing a comprehensive picture of Canada’s clinical research assets.
  • The 2012 commitment by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to provide up to $150 million, which is to be matched by members of Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies over 5 years to improve coordination of clinical research activities and support, train, recruit and retain outstanding researchers in Canada.

Leading globally recognized academic research centres and institutes include:

Date modified: