Birgit Girshick, corporate senior VP of Charles River’s research models and global biopharmaceutical services, told Outsourcing-pharma.com up to a third of the company’s 94 employees at a Frederick, Maryland facility will lose their jobs because of the termination of the contract, which was worth about $12m annually.
“We can operate with fewer people because we’re operating a little differently and more efficiently,” Girshick said.
As of late July, Charles River assumed management and operational responsibilities for the Frederick facility and continues to breed and maintain the animal colonies housed at the facility. The announcement comes as Charles River is nearing optimal capacity utilization as its preclinical services business grew by one third last quarter when compared to the same quarter from 2013.
Girshick said that although the NCI took a few strains of the animal models in-house, 95% of the strains “are only available through us,” and Charles River has had an “extremely positive reception from grantees, who seem relieved that they can continue to get those models…[we] haven’t found anyone who’s looking to switch to another supplier.”
Charles River for the first time is facing competition from rival Harlan Laboratories, which is offering a new pricing plan to NCI grantees looking to transition away from Charles River.
But Charles River says it has developed a plan that allows customers to seamlessly transition animal orders to the company, which allows them to avoid new validation of models, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Girshick added that the previously offered models are now being provided to grantees – “what we’ve done is converted the Frederick business to a full CRL site – grantees will have access to same NCI models, which enables them to save time on validating animal models from another company.”
She added that companies could save between a few weeks and several months, noting, “in some cases it might be easy if they’re going from one sub-line to another.”
So far the reception from NCI grantees has been “extremely positive” Girshick said, noting that many were relieved that they can continue to get those models and “know that quality and biosecurity” remain intact.