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North American CROs continue emerging market moves

By Kirsty Barnes , 22-Aug-2007

Two North American contract research organisation (CROs) have this week announced acquisitive moves into emerging clinical trials markets, while a third firm has extended an Asian partnership, as the emerging market migration continues.

ethica Clinical Research has formed a joint venture with India's Matrix Group and become the first CRO to delve into this budding region. The newborn company will manage contract research services in India on behalf of domestic, North American and European clients "that seek to benefit from the highly cost-effective Indian research environment, as well as from a hugely enhanced ability to recruit research participants for clinical trials". The initial activities of ethicamatrix will involve clinical study monitoring, data management, and investigator training, said ethica. ethicamatrix will be based in Hyderabad, the same region as the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), a government facility that is earmarked for a $50m (€37m) upgrade investment.


According to ethica, several leading teaching hospitals are already seeking partnerships with ethicamatrix including Shree Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) of Tirupati, in Andhra Pradesh. "As the first and only CRO in the world to earn full accreditation from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP), ethica is uniquely certified to bring the highest of global standards to contract research in India", the company said in a statement. ethica also said that it will implement its AAHRPP-accredited operating and training procedures in its new Indian setup and ethicamatrix will also seek AAHRPP accreditation "in due course." Meanwhile, US-based CRO Medpace has just completed the acquisition of Monax, a CRO headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic - another burgeoning clinical trials region.


The firm said the move "strengthens its presence in Central Europe and expands its capacity to provide full service clinical research management within the Czech Republic and Slovakia". Medpace, whose clinical focus lies in drugs for use in cardiology, metabolism, and oncology, is already has offices in Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Belgium, Brazil, China, India, in addition to its global headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. In other news, California-based KineMed has extended a collaboration with Japanese CRO CMIC,that has been ongoing since 2006. Under the arrangement, CMIC will seek compounds within Japanese pharmaceutical firms which have already demonstrated human safety results, with a focus on metabolic disease, fibrosis and reverse cholesterol transport, for in-licensing by KineMed.


KineMed will use its technology to demonstrate on-mechanism dose response for these selected compounds. CMIC will have then have the option to become KineMed's partner and co-fund clinical development for the Japanese market, for any of the compounds that make it through to the clinical development stage. "We anticipate CMIC becoming a significant clinical partner for us over the long term", said David Fineman, president and CEO of KineMed. This type of arrangement is unusual between a CRO and a drug developer, although some CROs have lately been seen to be branching away from the traditional fee-for-service business model and dabble in other commercial arrangements, such as strategic partnerships, or risk-sharing partnerships or even developing their own drugs.


Quintiles, Evotec and Galapagos, SRI Biosciences, Pharmaceutical Products Development (PPD) and Holmes Biopharma are all examples of such firms.

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