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CRL adds Pfizer-developed R&D lab models to portfolio

By Gareth Macdonald , 07-Mar-2011
Last updated on 07-Mar-2011 at 10:31 GMT

Charles River Laboratories (CRL) said it will distribute several Pfizer-developed R&D models, in a deal that continues the US CRO’s efforts to expand its lab animals business.

The agreement, terms of which were not disclosed, will see CRL supply a number of the US drugmakers “pre-competitive” transgenic models to researchers working in fields including neuroscience, diabetes and cardio vascular disease.

Pfizer, which is restructuring its R&D operations and narrowing its therapeutic focus after its acquisition of Wyeth , said the CRL deal aligns with its plan to externalize its research tools to “scientists outside of [its] walls.”

A CRL spokeswoman told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: "We are consistently looking to further expand the growing portfolio of research models that we offer to our global client base," but declined to give any further information for reasons of confidentiality.

The deal also follows just months after CRL’s agreement with Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, which added models lacking genes thought to be involved in cancer progression, p53 and Bcrp, to its offering.

Models and Services

Research models and services was the best performing part CRL’s business in the 12 months to December 25, 2010 in terms of net revenue, which increased some 9 per cent to $666m (€476m).

The unit also led the way in operating income, which despite falling 4.6 per cent to $183m, was at least a positive unlike the contribution from the firm’s preclinical services business swung into an operating loss of $379m.

However, on closer inspection of CRL’s quarterly reports, it becomes clear that the provision of research model services rather than the sale of laboratory animal models themselves was the key driver.

In Q1 2010, the unit saw net sales and operating income increase due, as CRL said at the time, to the sale of in vitro models and the contribution from services business it bought in 2009.

The pattern continued in Q2 with “strong sales” of in vitro models and the contribution from the Piedmont Research Center and Cerebricon offsetting low sales of large animal models.

Lower demand for research models than research model services was also cited as a factor in the net sales declines CRL saw in the final two quarters of 2010.