Two CROs merge to take on Eastern Europe
strengthen their position in the Central and Eastern Europe's
(CEE's) budding clinical research scene.
KCR (formerly called Kiecana Clinical Research), a contract research organisation (CRO) based in Warsaw, has bought DUX Consuling, the largest Czech company handling this type of research in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Financial details were not disclosed. The merger of the two companies is aimed at building a strong group within the CEE area, said KCR: "This undertaking will make KCR a major company specialising in clinical research on the CRO market in CEE". KCR specialises in Phase II-IV research. It already has branches in the Ukraine and the Baltic countries and coordinates research in Central Europe, Russia and Western Europe. The firm indicated that the acquisition will now bring it greater access to new clients in the geographies of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where DUX currently operates. Adam Kruszewski, president of the management board of KCR said that this purchase is the first step in the implementation of its strategy. "Our intention is to build, as soon as it is possible, a home-based capital group which will carry out clinical research in the Central and Eastern European countries", he said. An increasing number of factors are luring pharmaceutical drug trial sponsors to offshore their clinical trials to different locations across the globe, where traditionally they were mainly held in the US and Western Europe. The US is still dominant in the clinical trials arena, carrying out 53 per cent of the world's 59,000 Phase I-III studies, however, US investigator groups are continuously underperforming with patient recruitment, with 50 per cent of sites recruiting less than 5 per cent of patients and 30 per cent recruiting 50 per cent of patients. Despite notorious issues with recruitment, this is no longer the country's number one cause for trial delay either, with contract and budget delays taking over the number one spot of woe and 94 per cent of all US trials are now delayed over a month. Meanwhile in Europe, ethics committee review and application; patient recruitment; legal review, contract and budget negotiations; and protocol amendment are the biggest trial headaches. The CEE region is one of several offshore locations that has been gaining in popularity for running clinical trials to speed up the recruitment and study turnaround times and cut costs. According to Dan McDonald, vice president of Strategic and product development for consultancy firm D. Anderson & Company, the CEE is a "hidden clinical trial gem". The eight-country area offers 20 per cent savings on study costs, 400m treatment naïve patients, most of whom are part of a centralised health system. "There have been over 1,500 new study registrations here in the past year, he said. Adding Russia and the Ukraine to the mix makes the region even more lucrative, with 200m treatment naïve patients - greater than in all 12 Western European countries combined - and a recruitment rate between two and ten times faster as well as a cash saving of up to 50 per cent compared to the west. As a result trials from the US have more than tripled here in the past few years and both the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are now approving drugs with trial data from Russian sites.