Australian CRO buys in New Zealand to establish ‘regional solution’

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Australian CRO Clinical Network Services (CNS) has positioned itself as a “truly regional solution” with the acquisition of New Zealand-based Beltas.

The deal - which completed last month – added Beltas’ Auckland headquarters, workforce and existing contracts to CNS’ business. It also adds the Kiwi contractor’s good clinical practice training operation to the Australian firm’s offering.

CNS managing director Russell Neal said: “This acquisition continues our goal of widening our capabilities across Australia and New Zealand and by bringing together these two highly skilled clinical teams with years of collective experience we are able to offer our clients a truly regional solution.”

The acquisition comes a little over a year after CNS launched its BioDesk trial planning and regulatory affairs service, which was also designed to establish the firm as the go to contract research organisation in that part of the Asia pacific region according to associate director Mark Reid.

There is an obvious need for biotechnology companies to obtain expert support in making the transition from ‘bench’ to the clinic and BioDesk aims to provide this capability – particularly for companies looking to trial their products in Australia or New Zealand​.”

New Zealand trials

New Zealand’s trials industry has been the subject of considerable debate​ since 2010​ when the country’s Government started looking for ways to make the country more attractive for trials.

The inquiry – which prompted by Australia’s successful efforts to grow its clinical research sector – concluded that  ​New Zealand needed to simplify and streamline its ethical review process, improve coordination of oversight, develop a national plan to foster innovation and set up a trial framework.

Since then the New Zealand National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC) has issued revised guidelines​ and agreed to conduct a further review by 2015, while industry group the New Zealand Association of clinical research (NZACRes) has developed a strandardised research agreement.

These changes coincided with efforts by a number of leading CROs – notably INC Research​ – to expand their presence in the county.

What impact the changes will have longer term remains to be seen, but those seeking to boost the value of New Zealand’s trials sector - currently estimated to be worth NZ$12m to NZ$30m a year – are likely to welcome any deal or investment that seeks to raise the industry’s profile.

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