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CRO Novotech seeks more emerging markets, expands into South Africa

By Zachary Brennan , 29-Jan-2014

Australia’s largest clinical CRO Novotech has expanded its clinical services with a new office in Johannesburg, South Africa to deal with increasing sponsor demand.

CEO Alek Safarian told Outsourcing-Pharma.com that the expansion to South Africa followed demand from existing US-based biotech sponsors for whom Novotech was already managing clinical trial programs in Asia.

We’ve been running studies [in South Africa] for three years through consultants…and as South Africa is the most developed country in Africa for clinical trials for certain indications there’s a good track record and history,” Safarian said.

The company is working on HIV and tuberculosis trials, both of which were driven by demand, he noted.

To meet expectations, the company hired 10 locals for its office in Johannesburg, which follows the company’s business model to “hire locally” in emerging markets, Safarian said.

As the leading market for clinical trials in Africa, there are currently over 1700 studies registered on the South African Department of Health online registry,” said Safarian.

2013 was a big year for the Sydney-based CRO as Novotech obtained investment from a private equity company , as well as further expansions into Hong Kong and the Phillipines . The PE funding helped to fund the new office in South Africa, Safarian said.

Together with its partner in China, Novotech now provides biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies access to patients from a population base of over 3 billion people.

As far as concerns about spreading the company too thin, Safarian noted that the focus of Novotech has been “to build a scalable infrastructure and we’re operating across diverse geographies…we haven’t hit a scalability limit.”

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