Pfizer teams with Parexel and Icon in CRO sector's latest strategic deals

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Clinical development, Pharmaceutical industry, Pharmacology, Clopidogrel

US drugmaker Pfizer has teamed up with Parexel and Icon in the latest Big Pharma CRO strategic partnerships.

Under its collaboration, terms of which have not been disclosed, Parexel will provide the US drug major with a range of clinical development services in a five-year agreement that is due to start early next month.

Parexel CEO Josef von Rickenbach told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “Pfizer has engaged Parexel in a strategic partnership model and we have been selected as one of only two strategic partners that will handle their clinical development needs over the next five years​.”

Parexel will leverage its proven clinical processes and expertise combined with its market-leading eClinical technology platform. This will help Pfizer gain greater visibility into trials and improve data access for faster, better decision making​.”

The deal is one of a number of ‘strategic partnerships’ Parexel has signed, after its accords with Merck MBV, Bristol Myers Squibb​ (BMS) in June 2010 and GSK​ and Eli Lilly​ the following September.

According to von Rickenbach this means “Parexel has clearly become an outsourcing partner of choice. We are a leader, with the capabilities to consistently deliver as an outcomes-focused strategic partner.

“We are driving significant value creation and performance through these truly collaborative, strategic relationships as few other CROs can​.”


Pfizer has been cutting in-house R&D capacity in recent years in a bid to reduce costs with the most recent example of this approach being its decision ​to close its facility in Sandwich, Kent in the UK.

At the time company spokesman Andrew Widger told this site's sister publication, in-Pharmatechnologist.com, that: “Like all of our industry peers, Pfizer is challenged with insufficient productivity and an unsustainable model for innovation."

He added that: “We intend to create novel and flexible partnerships to externalize R&D services." ​As a result, Pfizer’s decision to outsourcing to Parexel is not unexpected.

In April Dave Windley from Jeffries & Co told Outsourcing-pharma.com that: “We now strongly believe [Pfizer] will shift toward a short list of strategic, global vendors, probably five or less, enabling more internal efficiency in the management of the external partners​."

The US drug giant joins peers like Sanofi​ (formerly Sanofi Aventis), GSK, Eli Lilly and B-MS on the list of Big Pharma firms that have farmed out, excuse the pun, clinical development operations to third parties.


And, in the hours since the deal with Parexel was announced Pfizer has also revealed that it has partnered with Dublin-based CRO Icon.

In a press statement Pfizer said Icon will be involved in program initiation and management; site and country feasibility; data management and reporting set-up; program study drug logistics; scientific and medical communications; and quality assurance.

Icon CEO Peter Gray said: "Today's announcement is another significant indicator of Icon’s ability to partner with major companies in helping them transform their drug development model and validates the investments that we are making to capitalise on the changing market environment.”

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