The unit, named the CB Trial Laboratory, will provide analysis services for trials the US contract research organisation (CRO) conducts in Japan with a particular focus on safety and HbA1C analysis.
Covance is the latest of a growing number of CROs to aiming to expand in Japan which, as president of central laboratory services Deborah Tanner acknowledged, is a rapidly evolving market for clinical research.
“Recent efforts by Japanese regulators to reduce drug development timelines have created significant interest among pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials in the country.”
Tanner went on to explain that partnering with BML, which has operated in Japan for 55 years, offering a range of analysis and sample logistics services, provided the “best opportunity” to target this growing market.
Covance’s adoption of the partnership approach to Japanese market expansion is in common with moves made by CROs like NexMed, recently renamed Apricus Bio, and BBK which have both teamed with local players.
Others, including the world’s biggest contract trial services firm Quintiles, have focused on expanding in Japan via infrastructure investment and reoganisation.
And beyond clinical research, demand for drug development in Japan has seen increased investment from contractors working in preclinical discover most recently Thermo Fisher Scientific which set up a biomarker services unit.
Preclinical cuts forecast?
In other Covance news, analysts at Morgan Stanley have predicted that the CRO will reduce its capacity for preclinical development projects, which has been a problematic area for the firm in the downturn.
Morgan Stanley told the Wall Street Journal it expects Covance to "lower its preclinical capacity to levels that better reflect market demand" based on comments the firm made during a presentation earlier this week.
Such a move would fit with both predictions issued by Covance in its last quarterly report, when it forecast lower demand for preclinical toxicology testing, as well as capacity reductions it completed earlier in the year.