Biogen Idec’s five-year deal is the latest example of biopharma embracing the strategic partnership model, but the choice of Quintiles is somewhat of a surprise, according to ISI analyst Ross Muken.
The five-year partnership will see a dedicated team form Quintiles, the world’s largest CRO by revenue, work on the design, planning and execution of Biogen Idec’s phase II-IV studies, as well as select phase I studies, using its technology and systems.
This announcement confirms speculation from the recent Partnerships in Clinical Trials (PCT) conference in Las Vegas that Biogen Idec was looking to move towards a single-source model for its clinical outsourcing and, according to ISI analyst Ross Muken, was no big surprise.
The deal “continues the trend towards consolidation to the largest industry vendors,” he told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
However, whilst he told us the announcement is “another example of biopharma embracing the strategic partner model,” Muken said in a note he was surprised Biogen Idec had selected Quintiles.
“Commentary from industry contacts at last month's PCT conference suggested (without company confirmation) that Parexel had picked up the Biogen Idec book of business.”
The partnership was not directly described as ‘exclusive’ by either firm, and thus – unlike the relationship between Quintiles and Merck Serono – Biogen Idec could use other CROs. However, Muken confirmed, “Quintiles has clearly emerged as the primary strategic partner.”
The role of strategic partnerships has become a hot topic in the CRO industry, and whilst some of the larger pharma and CROs have clearly embraced such relationships, a recent survey found on average sponsors are reverting back towards a larger number of outsourcing partners.
This is backed up further as Pharma Giant Pfizer is currently exploring options to bring a third CRO onboard, with some analysts predicting Quintiles may make the gain here as well , adding to Pfizer’s current partners, Parexel and Icon.
As for Quintiles itself, CEO Tom Pike said about the Biogen deal: “We are extremely excited about this agreement and the increased interest we are seeing for these types of innovative development deals.”