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Comparator Sourcing

Generic or branded drug acquisition for clinical trials

Clinical trials often use branded or generic drugs as reference products to compare the performance of innovative therapies. Sourcing these comparator drugs in a timely and cost-effective way can be a challenge. Questions about the source or integrity of these drugs can also undermine a comparator trial’s success.

Learn how ICS can support in addressing these challenges through our comparator sourcing services:

  • Moving medicine forward
  • What is comparator sourcing? 
  • How we work
  • Why ICS?

Moving medicine forward


Our comparator sourcing solution helps manufacturers access comparator drugs for clinical trials. We ensure product integrity and fair pricing when sourcing branded or generic products. 

Questions about the integrity of a drug can jeopardize a trial with financial implications. We use our trusted industry relationships to source comparator drugs for clinical trials directly from pharmaceutical companies. We offer access to U.S. drugs for study use — including branded, generic, and specialty. We also offer ancillary items for comparator clinical trials and research.


A close up of a group of vials

What is comparator sourcing?

A close up of a group of vials

In clinical trials, comparator drugs are used to compare the efficacy of a drug in development to an existing treatment. The drugs might be a marketed therapy or a placebo, depending on the type of clinical trial.

Comparator sourcing gives drug companies access to these drugs in large enough quantities. It does so quickly to ensure the smooth running of a clinical trial. It requires a robust supply chain, forecasting operations, and logistics expertise.

Companies sourcing comparator drugs for clinical trials can face challenges accessing the products they need: 

  • Cost: It can be expensive to source comparator drugs in the quantities needed.
  • Time: Any delays in sourcing products can negatively impact a comparator clinical trial.
  • Product integrity: The source of the comparator drugs is important. Questions about it can harm a trial’s results.
A close up of a group of vials

How we work 


Fast and practical

Our dedicated team provides a fast, predictable response to quote requests, usually within one to two business days.  
Temperature Control Logistics


All products are transported in temperature-controlled environments with active monitoring to ensure product integrity if required.


We have great reach, scale, and industry leadership. We use our proven logistics history to simplify access to comparator drugs for clinical trials across the U.S.
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ICS is part of the Cencora family of companies. Cencora is an authorized distributor of record (ADR) for nearly all commercial drugs with an intense focus on quality assurance.
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Fair price

We purchase comparator drugs through Cencora’s established sourcing network. This ensures you get fair, clear pricing.
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We can use the World Courier for transportation. Or we can use your courier. The choice is yours.

We buy direct to ensure product integrity

We have deep industry relationships. We can buy comparator drugs directly from the manufacturer and wholesalers. Sourcing comparators directly ensures the integrity and product safety of the comparator drug.  

Why ICS?

ICS provides innovative distribution services for specialty medications. These include cell and gene therapy products. They also include branded and generic drugs, biosimilars, and medical devices. ICS also sources comparators for clinical trials

Customers choose us for these key reasons:

Commitment to excellence

We pursue it relentlessly and follow the highest quality standards. We always strive to improve to provide the best service.

Expert account management model

We act as a single point of access to strategic program design, better 3PL, and performance analytics for your supply chain.

Integrated commercialization solutions

Through us, you have access to solutions from across Cencora. They provide support for each step of the product and patient journey.

Partnership-driven approach

We manage client relationships with a partnership philosophy. We provide flexibility and a solutions-focused mindset. These ensure excellence throughout your product’s journey.

Proven, innovative solutions

We start with a consultative approach. We tailor your logistics strategy to your business goals and patients’ needs.

Proven performance

Our logistics expertise and patient-centric culture provide superior supply chain performance.

Start a conversation

Looking for logistics solutions to source comparator drugs? 

Comparator sourcing: FAQs

A comparator drug is an investigational or marketed product or a placebo used as a reference in a comparator clinical trial. Investigational products can be comparator drugs when they are intended to be used outside of their registered indications.

Comparator drugs in clinical research are often branded or generic products currently on the market. These can provide a reference to compare the performance of the drug being trialed to existing treatments. Placebos can also be used as comparators. They show how the treatment performs compared to no treatment.

Comparator sourcing refers to procuring a marketed drug, or another investigational drug, for use as a reference in a comparator clinical trial. However, our services extend beyond just comparator sourcing. In the context of clinical trials, we also source co-medications, ancillaries, specialty drugs and other necessary supplies.

A strong supply chain is needed as well as forecasting and logistics expertise to ensure reliable delivery and clinical trial success.