“Chile is now complete, and has been commissioned and we have our license to operate,” Marken CEO Wes Wheeler told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. “We’re still hiring a few people there to be fully staffed but we’re all set to go in Santiago.”
In addition, the company has built another facility in Lima, Peru, inside one of its supplier’s locations “to take advantage of that space – we’ve commissioned, validated it, and we’re in the process of hiring a technical director. My expectation is that by December we’ll be fully operational, we’ll have studies registered there by the end of the year,” Wheeler said.
And although the depot in Brazil is nearly complete, the company is still waiting on a license to begin operations.
“In Sao Paulo we’ve finished the facility, validated it and applied for a license from the local and national licensing boards but getting licenses in Brazil is not the easiest thing in the world so we’re still waiting for the final piece of paper but otherwise we’re done,” Wheeler said.
The three new depots will mean that Marken will then have five locations in Latin America, with depots in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina and Mexico.
Shift to Lat Am
Wheeler explained that there’s now an “amazing expansion of patients coming out of South America” as a lot of oncology drug developers are now sourcing patients from Latin America and eastern Europe, Wheeler said. He said he thought about 45% of those patients were recruited by CROs.
He also explained that the company is a specialist in biological samples as “we get most of the samples coming back from South American to central labs in the US. Most of the specimens – the blood samples, cell cultures and tumor cells – are usually coming through Miami and transferred into different US cities. We’re doing a lot of volume, about 15,000 specimens per month. It’s an interesting transition in the volume, which is shifting from what traditionally was Europe and the US to now Latin America and eastern Europe.”
In addition to Latin America, Marken is also looking to push further east with a possible new depot in Korea.
“We serve all of Asia via Singapore but we had to build something in Beijing because the China market is so special,” he told us.
“The bio revolution is happening and we’re now working now with a few Korean companies because of the influx of biosimilars,” he said, noting that Marken has an office and a small team now in Korea.