Pike said he expects an uptick in strategic partnerships moving forward and he noted that the term ‘strategic partnership’ connotes nothing more than a preferred provider arrangement, which Quintiles currently has with Merck Serono and Biogen.
“These relationships use the full services of Quintiles…[and the] collaboration causes a better outcome because we challenge each other in the design process. We believe we’re the only one to enter into these types of relationships and expect to see more in the future,” Pike told investors, noting that 10 customers did more than $100m in business last year for the outsourcing company.
And although Pike said he’s watching trends in the preclinical space, “right now there’s so much clinical opportunity -- staying focused on this prize is really where we want to be.” Most of Quintiles’ work is in Phase II research, and Pike noted there’s “plenty of opportunity” to move further into Phase III trials.
With more than 4,000 employees in India, as well as staff in eastern Europe, south Africa and all other major markets outside the US, Pike said that Quintiles is “continuously moving work into lower-cost countries.”
And lowering costs for both CROs and their clients will be particularly key right now as investor interest in the CRO industry seems to wane somewhat.
But as far as the technology and software that Quintiles uses to augment its capabilities with clients, Pike said his company is “not trying to be Medidata or Oracle,” which it works with “on a regular basis.” As one of the leaders in risk-based monitoring and with its expanding global footprint, Quintiles can monitor trials from low-cost locations and provide better margins and lower costs for customer, he said.
The customer response, Pike added, is that they want CROs to bring technology to the table – “they’re interested in installing our software.”
Pike also highlighted Quintiles’ central labs business, which is second in the market to Covance.
A large amount of information coming out of central labs “is looked at by regulators,” Pike said, noting the company is experiencing double digit growth in this area, while market growth is about 5-6%. He stressed that Quintiles is a leader in more complex, esoteric testing, which is “hard to get into if you don’t have some scale.”
Moving forward, Pike said the company will continue to use M&A as a part of its strategy, “and we continue to see targets.”