Clearstone Central Laboratories began operating in 2009 when a private equity group acquired assets from MDS Pharma Services. Having aligned operating processes, transferred technology between sites and cut costs, Clearstone is now positioned to grow, particularly in China.
The Beijing, China site, which opened in the 1990s, is now equipped to perform the same assays as other facilities in Clearstone’s network. Lewis Cameron, CEO of Clearstone, told Outsourcing-Pharma, this makes the site an attractive proposition to biopharm looking to outsource to China.
Eli Lilly transferred Affymetrix DMET (drug metabolising enzymes and transporters) technology to the Beijing site and outsourced pharmacogenomics testing. Since then Clearstone has done more work for Lilly, said Cameron, and the DMET technology has been used with other clients.
Another, unnamed, pharmaceutical company has entered into a similar technology transfer and outsourcing deal with Clearstone. Both deals boost scientific capabilities at the Beijing site while strengthening relationships between Clearstone and certain clients.
Forging stronger ties to key clients is another objective for Clearstone in 2011. Clearstone is a preferred provider to a number of clients, said Cameron, and is focused on developing these into lasting strategic partnerships.
To get clients to commit to strategic relationships Clearstone must show it can save them money, said Cameron. Clearstone is looking to offer full service packages, including work traditionally performed in-house, and has spent the past 12 months developing into a one-stop-shop.
Geographic reach is one element of the expansion. Clearstone has focused on having one core laboratory in each region, leading to closure of its New Jersey site, and logistics improvements have increased the area each facility can serve.
When Cameron became CEO he planned to open a laboratory in Latin America. However, a deal with TNT has shortened transport times to the extent that Clearstone can serve clients in Latin America from North America. Consequently, Latin American expansion is no longer a priority.
Clearstone strengthened in North America through a partnership with LabCorp. The deal also gave Clearstone access to speciality capabilities, such as biomarkers and oncology services, at LabCorp.
In 2010 Clearstone cut costs by focusing on its core central laboratories, shedding its cardiac services business in the process, and this helped it meet its financial targets for the year.
Having lowered outgoings Clearstone is now positioned to grow revenues and backlog without significantly increasing costs, said Cameron. Drivers of this growth will be growth of operations in Asia, particularly the Beijing site, and the formation of strategic partnerships with key clients.