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Clinical trials in the BioRegion

Catalonia is ranked among the top 10 in the world in number of participations in clinical trials. Looking only at oncology, this position rises to the European Top 5 and remains in the World Top 10, as it does for other leading specializations.

Since 2001, the number of clinical trials carried out in Catalonia has continued to grow and, in the past ten years, the figure has doubled. A series of attractive factors explain why Catalonia has become a priority destination for clinical trials around the world and why major global pharmaceutical companies have chosen our territory to carry out their clinical studies.


Catalonia is currently participating in over 1,240 active clinical trials to test new therapies and drugs in patients. If we compare this figure on a European level, Catalonia ranks 6th in number of participations in trials and 9th worldwide, only behind large countries like the United States (9,855), Canada (1,977), France (1,951), United Kingdom (1,650), Spain (1,646), Germany (1,618) and Italy (1,484). Moreover, Catalan centers take part in 75% of all active trials carried out in Spain.


48% of the clinical trials in which Catalan centers participate are in phase I (15%) or phase II (33%), and 52% in phases III (49%) and IV (3%), i.e. the phases closest to drug commercialization.

Benchmark in oncology

In terms of therapeutic areas, Catalonia excels in conducting clinical trials in a wide variety of specialized fields, but one specialty stands out in particular: oncology, which accounts for 49% of all clinical trials with Catalan participation, followed by cardiovascular diseases (14.7%), ophthalmology (8.1%), central nervous system diseases (7.8%), mental health (5.8%) and minority diseases (1.1%).


clinical trials catalonia

By centers, Vall d’Hebron University Hospital is the most active in clinical trials, followed by Hospital Clinic Barcelona, Bellvitge University Hospital, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Hospital Universitari Parc Taulí and Parc de Salut Mar.

Catalonia: priority destination for clinical trials

The main assets that explain why Catalonia has become a priority destination for clinical trials worldwide are: 

  • Top-notch healthcare system with access to a large population and an excellent primary care network.
  • First-class hospitals, both public and private.
  • Presence of world-renowned Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in various therapeutic areas, such as doctors Josep Tabernero in oncology, Jordi Bruix and Josep Maria Llovet in hepatology, Antoni Bayes-Genis in Cardiology, Bonaventura Clotet in HIV, Merce Boada in Alzheimer's and Xavier Montalban in multiple Sclerosis.
  • Costs are more competitive than in other European countries and the United States

One example of this market attractiveness is the clinical trials ran in Catalonia by the top international pharmaceutical companies with the highest turnover, like Novartis, Roche, MSD, AstraZeneca, Janssen, GSK, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Pfizer, AbbVie and Sanofi

What is a clinical trial? Informatin for patients

  • A clinical trial is an experimental study that aims to obtain information on how effective and safe a drug, treatment or medical device is for human use. There are many different studies that must be conducted when developing a drug before it can be marketed and used in normal medical practice.
  • A clinical trial only comes about after a long, careful process of laboratory research has indicated that a drug could be beneficial and safe for patients, whether all patients or specific groups for which it may work best. Patient participation in clinical trials is always voluntary and candidates are only accepted after having undergone the informed consent process.
  • How can a patient participate in a clinical trial? What rights do participants in clinical trials have? What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial? What is the informed consent process? If you are a patient and you want to know more about clinical trials, download this Frequenty Asked Questions (FAQ) document about clinical trials.