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Contract research news in brief

Published on 25/05/11 at 10:26am

Mergers and acquisitions abound in our latest round-up of contract research sector news, as players try to achieve the global scale needed to win strategic-level contracts with pharma customers.

US contract research organisation Global Clinical Development has been put up for sale by parent company SRA International as part of its takeover by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners. GCD has offices in the USA, UK and France and specialises in regulatory affairs, clinical trials and drug development services. The unit posted a $1.3 million loss in the quarter ended 31 March, 2011.

Investment firm GCMP Capital Advisors is taking an 80% stake in full-service CRO Medpace in a deal expected to close in June. Medpace management will own 20% of the firm, with the investment providing funding to "advance our leadership position, grow the core business, and expand our global reach", said the CRO's chief executive August Troendle. The value of the transaction has not been disclosed, but is estimated to be in excess of $500 million.

Vyteris has decided to abandon its drug delivery business model and convert to a CRO in the wake of its earlier acquisition of MediSync BioServices. Vyteris will now "focus all its efforts on consolidating specialty businesses in the CRO, site management organisation (SMO) and related services industry", it said, while putting its drug delivery assets up for sale. The CRO business will be grown by a series of acquisitions during the remainder of 2011 and 2012.

Clinical consulting and commercial services firm inVentiv Health has said it will acquire drug development services firm PharmaNet Development Group, its second purchase since the start of 2011. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Adding PharmaNet's sales - along with those of January 2011 purchase Ingenix - will almost double InVentiv's revenues from its current level of $1 billion, with the CRO business contributing $900 million a year.

Clinipace has acquired PFC Pharma Focus - its third CRO purchase in 18 months - adding new offices in Switzerland, Germany, Israel and India. The deal follows Clinipace's acquisitions of Worldwide Clinical Research in 2009 and Regulus Pharmaceutical Consulting earlier this year, and puts it on track to hike 2011 revenues to more than $20 million. PFC co-founders Kurt Pfister and Kathryn Voegeli will join Clinipace as chief executive and chief operating officer, respectively, for European Operations.

A new CRO specialising in imaging technologies - called ImageIQ - has been spun out of the USA's Cleveland Clinic. ImageIQ says it will provide visual analysis tools for product efficacy and safety testing to customers in the research, pharmaceutical and medical device sectors. Timothy Kubalgo has been appointed president and chief executive of the new company.

PRA International has acquired Indian company Kinship Technologies, which focuses on software for data extraction and analysis. The Chennai-based IT company has developed a platform called EXACT which will be integrated with PRA's electronic clinical trial management systems. "The EXACT system allows programmers and biostatisticians to spend more time delivering higher value services to our clients instead of spending time writing and validating programs that only extract, transform, or layout clinical data," said Jason Packwood, vice president of PRA's business solutions group.

Phil Taylor

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