Icon expansion continues but op income down 40%

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Clinical trials, Contract research organization, Clinical trial

Icon posted a big drop in operating income in the first quarter and has allied with Japan-based Acronet to expand geographic reach.

Operating income before restructuring charges fell 40 per cent as higher costs offset an uptick in net revenues. Icon expects results to improve later in the year and continues to add to global operations, most recently by allying with a Japanese contract research organisation (CRO).

Recent changes in the regulatory landscape mean that an increasing number of Japanese based pharmaceutical companies are looking to run development projects on both a domestic and pan regional basis​”, said Alan Morgan, president of clinical research services at Icon, in a statement.

These changes have created an opportunity for global CROs and Icon has benefited, Morgan told Outsourcing-Pharma recently. Following the changes Icon has seen an uptick in demand from Japanese biopharm for clinical trials conducted in neighbouring countries, such as South Korea.

Gains made by Icon have, to some extent, come at the expense of local, Japan-focused CROs and these businesses are under threat, said Morgan. Expanding beyond Japan is costly and challenging though, especially considering the difficulties of getting samples in and out of China.

Expanding beyond Japan

Partnering with a global CRO is one way of expanding while avoiding these difficulties. Acronet, which has no overseas presence beyond a New York contact, will now benefit from the global reach of Icon.

The number of global clinical trials involving the triad regions of US, EU (European Union) and Japan has increased gradually in recent years and this trend will continue to accelerate​”, said Shogo Nakamori, president and CEO of Acronet.

Financial results on the Acronet website only go up to 2009 when sales increased year-on-year by 22 per cent. Monitoring, quality control and data management for clinical trials accounted for the majority of earnings.

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