MDS’ Central Labs becomes Clearstone Central Laboratories
Czura Thornton acquired Central Labs from MDS for an initial $8m (€5.4m) as part of the contract research organisation’s (CRO) restructuring efforts. Having acquired Clearstone, Czura Thornton is planning on expanding its geographic reach and service offering, according to Nick Thornton.
Speaking to Outsourcing-Pharma, Thornton, co-founder of Czura Thornton, explained that India and Latin America are possible locations for new Clearstone sites. He added that setting up in India would be helped by Chiltern’s presence in Mumbai and that the CRO may also expand.
Thornton intends to develop a “symbiotic relationship” between Chiltern and Clearstone. One aspect of this is that the organisations may establish offices in countries where the other has a presence, drawing on their expertise and local knowledge to ease the process.
Consequently, in addition to Clearstone’s potential expansion into India and Latin America, Chiltern may set up in Beijing, China and Singapore. Clearstone already has operations in these locations and Thornton believes they would be interesting locations for Chiltern to set up in.
Thornton confirmed that Clearstone and Chiltern will remain separate entities but that a close relationship could be beneficial to both companies. In addition to the geographic possibilities Thornton envisages the companies making use of each others’ infrastructure and expertise.
Furthermore, Chiltern will recommend Clearstone to its clients that need lab services, and vice versa, to drive business and fulfil Thornton’s goal that the companies “take advantage of each others strengths". Thornton added that Clearstone will look to build strong relationships with other CROs.
New service areas
The first goal at Clearstone is to work on the “stability, consistency and quality of operations”, which Thornton believes are already of a high standard but can still be improved.
Clearstone will then look at expanding its service offering and Thornton expects investments to be made in biomarker capabilities. Oncology is another area of focus and this may be supported by the establishment of a centre of expertise.
By making these expansions Thornton hopes to grow Clearstone’s top line. This is the primary goal post-takeover and consequently Thornton expects to keep Clearstone’s current facilities operational, although regarding cutbacks he said “never say never”, adding that “there may be some fine tuning”.
Building on current capacity should strengthen Clearstone’s position in the sector, which Thornton believes follows the growth of the clinical trial market and is showing signs of recovery after several quarters with “soft demand”.