Chiltern makes latest CRO move into Russia
research organisations (CROs) to establish a foothold within the
clinical sleeping giant that is Russia.
The firm has opened a new office in St Petersburg, a move that Armand Czaplinski, Chiltern´s general manager of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) described as "a logical next step" in the company´s continued growth in the CEE region. Over the last few years, Chiltern has already been conducting trials in Russia in response to sponsors' requests to involve the country in global studies, but has not yet had a permanent presence. "Today, with an ever-higher number of competing trials, the pharmaceutical industry increasingly recognises the potential of CEE countries to meet enrollment goals," said Czaplinski. "The availability of trained staff and the quality of the data produced, has resulted in an increased number of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMEA) approved clinical trials." Indeed, CEE countries such asTurkey, Bulgaria, Russia, Romania and the Ukraine are proving particularly attractive as new locations in which to conduct clinical trials, with the latter three showing the most popularity, according to Polish market analysis firm PMR. All three of these countries have large development potential due to their vast populations (140m in Russia, 46m in Ukraine and 22m in Romania). Russia and the Ukraine in particular, with their 200m population of largely treatment naïve patients - greater than in all 12 Western European countries combined - have become increasingly popular for sponsors and CROs to base themselves, in order to more easily conduct clinical development programmes. According to PMR, the countries have 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. Drug trials from the US have tripled here in the past three years. Of the three, Russia dominates the pharma scene by far, holding one third of the total CEE market. Chiltern's decision to cement itself in the country was preceeded by the appointment of Dr Alexey Kornilov as general manager of its Russian operations, under whose direction the company is now expecting the new office "to grow rapidly". Meanwhile, other CROs are having the same idea - only two months ago, one of Chiltern's competitors, PPD announced it was also moving into Russia via the purchase of InnoPharm, another CRO based in Smolensk, which also has offices in Moscow and St Petersburg and a staff of 300. The acquisition of InnoPharm, which offers Phase II-IV clinical trials, data management and biostatistics services, will not only provide PPD with a foothold in the vast clinical territory of Russia, but also in neighbouring Ukraine, where it has an office in Kiev. "With more than 143m people in Russia alone, Eastern Europe is a high-growth market for clinical trials and a region PPD has targeted for expansion", said Eshelman at the time of the announcement. Eschelman aded: "We will put the accelerator down in Russia as much as we can, there are a lot of opportunities in terms of oncology and the large population… we will take a look at what other offices we are going to open there, we are dealing with 12 different time zones which makes travel difficult for CRAs".