Icon eyeing China

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Icon, Contract research organization

Icon is looking to expand its bioanalytical capacity in Asia, notably in China, and bolster its genomics, proteomics and cell-based assay capabilities, according to a VP who discussed diversification of the business.

The economic downturn has led to many contract research organisations (CRO) evaluating their operations to ensure they are equipped to deal with a future dip in demand. In light of this, and market trends, Icon has identified a number of possible areas for expansion.

Speaking to Outsourcing-Pharma at AAPS 2009 Brian O’Dwyer, vice president, bioanalytical development at Icon, said that having set up in India and expanded in Singapore the CRO is now looking at China.

O’Dwyer explained that Icon’s bioanalytical services are competitively priced against Asia-based CROs but some clients want to outsource to the region. To meet this demand Icon has expanded its capabilities in Asia and plans to continue to do so, according to O’Dwyer.

Icon will look at acquisitions and organic growth to expand, according to O’Dwyer, but to date the CRO has entered new markets and geographies by purchasing companies or facilities.

The bioanalytical division has made two such acquisitions in the past 12 months. In November 2008 Icon bought Prevalere to give it a foothold in the US and boost its large molecule capabilities.

Icon went on to acquire UK-based Veeda Laboratories, a subsidiary of Veeda Clinical Research, to improve its biomarker offering. By combining the acquisitions with its own capabilities O’Dwyer believes Icon has one of the best senior management teams for biologics and biomarkers.

In particular, O’Dwyer highlighted the team’s pharma experience, which he feels helps the CRO understand sponsors needs and requests, plus it is helpful to have an outsider’s perspective.

O’Dwyer is still keen that Icon keeps developing and expanding though, saying that he is always looking for new services that the CRO can offer. Currently on his radar are genomics, proteomics and cell-based assays.

He added that Icon is also looking at expanding into the nutraceutical and cosmeceutical sectors. These are both growth areas that Icon could benefit from operating in and the diversification would also equip it to prosper at times of reduced demand from the pharma industry.

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