Contract research news in brief

pharmafile | May 14, 2010 | News story | Research and Development CRO, Clinipace, Covance, Encorium, IR Pharma, Imperial College, PPD, Parexel 

Developments in the contract research sector this week include the opening of new offices for Parexel and PPD, the spin-out of a new CRO from Imperial College in the UK and contract awards for Encorium and Clinipace.

Parexel has expanded its presence in China by opening two additional offices in Chengdu and Guangzhou. The contract research organisation (CRO) already has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Kowloon in Hong Kong. The firm’s chief executive Josef von Rickenbach said it was important to have a strong presence in China, which looks set to become the fifth largest pharmaceutical market worldwide this year and reach a value of $47 billion in 2013.

Encorium says it has won a $6.8 million contract to conduct two phase III trials for an unidentified “Asian technology company” which is said to be diversifying its operations into the pharmaceutical industry. Kai Lindevall, Encorium’s chief executive, said: “This is the most significant break-through to date in our business development efforts in the Asian market.”

Covance has integrated its drug discovery capabilities and various antibody, biomarker, genomics and immunology services and tools into one unit, claiming that the resulting operation “will offer clients a depth and breadth of drug discovery and biomarker services that is unmatched in the CRO industry”.

Imperial Innovations, the commercialisation arm of Imperial College London, UK, has launched a new company called IR Pharma to provide contract services to the respiratory disease sector of the pharmaceutical industry. The company is built around the expertise of Prof. Maria Belvisi and Dr Mark Birrell and their research team based at Imperial’s Heart & Lung Institute.

US CRO Clinipace Worldwide has won a contract from biotechnology company Vaccinogen to manage a phase IIIb confirmatory clinical trial of its colon cancer vaccine candidate OncoVAX. Vaccinogen has already completed one pivotal study of OncoVAX in the Netherlands and has retained Clinipace to help it conduct a second study in the US, South America and Europe.

PPD has opened a pharmacovigilance and medical communications centre in Sofia, Bulgaria, to meet what it described as growing demand for drug safety, medical information and medical writing services in Eastern Europe. PPD has already hired more than 20 employees and plans to expand to more than 200 in the next 12 months. The new facility is PPD’s largest safety centre and its third European hub for medical communications contact centre services after Athlone, Ireland, and Stockholm, Sweden.

Phil Taylor

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