The US-based privately-owned clinical research firm ceased operations at its headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota according to unconfirmed reports published by Valleynewslive.com, WDAY.com and inforum.com last night.
Outsourcing-pharma.com was unable to reach PRACS on the phone, either at its site in Fargo or in Toronto, Canada, and the firm did not respond to a request for more information via email.
The Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce confirmed that PRACS has 316 employees in Fagro, but while it told us it had seen the closure reports it had no other information.
Similar stories have been posted on NBCnews.com, the website of Fox News affiliate KVRR.com and subsequently reported by the Associated Press.
PRACS has also been the subject of numerous tweets by media organisations in the last day:
According to a March 20 post on PRACS' Facebook page for the St Charles, St Louis centre, the CRO "experienced a system outage that impacted our ability to execute payments scheduled for Wednesday, March 20. We are working diligently to correct the issue and anticipate resolution within the next 48 hours.
The firm apologized and said it was working to resolve the matter but has posted nothing since.
Contract research organisation (CRO) Cetero became the PRACS Institute in 2012 after the original firm collapsed following the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) discovery it had manipulated and falsified records at its testing facility in Houston between 2005 and June 2010.
The ensuing scandal - which saw sponsors like Teva, Actavis and Ranbaxy ask Cetero to repeat studies - eventually resulted in it filing for bankruptcy protection, selling its assets and changing its management team.
We last spoke with PRACS in August last year when the firm sold its research facility in Miami to CRI Phase I Corporations.
At the time spokeswoman Katherine Cloninger told Outsourcing-pharma.com the sale reflected the new company’s decision to focus on core operations and key assets,” adding that “there was overlapping capacity between the Miami site and some of our larger clinical pharmacology facilities, which offer additional speciality procedures, capabilities and complex study types."
The reports suggest the refocusing plan has not been successful.