Top CROs tight lipped about rumoured Pfizer deal

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

The headquarters of privately-owned CRO PPD in Wilmington, North Carolina
The headquarters of privately-owned CRO PPD in Wilmington, North Carolina

Related tags Contract research organization

Quintiles has said Pfizer will “remain a customer” after analysts said the CRO lost out to a privately-owned contractor in the race to be the drug giant's third alliance partner.

Pfizer told it was “exploring the option​” of a third alliance partner last April​. This prompted speculation about which contract research organisation (CRO) was best placed to get the gig, with Quintiles being seen by some as a front runner. 

Last week, however, two separate industry observers told us Quintiles had been pipped to the post and that a privately-owned CRO was poised to be named as the world’s biggest drugmaker's newest alliance partner. 

Annoyingly, while this deal is apparently widely known about in banking circles, no one is willing to go on the record and say either that Quintiles definitely did not get the contract or indeed name the private CRO that did.

So here is what we know for sure: 

When asked if it is still searching for a third clinical trial contractor Pfizer told us this week it “is looking at sourcing strategies to supplement our existing vendors​" but declined to comment further.

Quintiles was similarly tight lipped when we asked if it had been passed over by Pfizer, telling us that it “does not comment on specific business development efforts​” and adding that “Pfizer has been and remains a customer​.”

Private CRO?

Jefferies analyst David Windley suggested on January 6 that “The AP [alliance partner] evaluation progressed through 2014 and should conclude early in 2015 with one private CRO.​” This – if accurate – would suggest stock market listed Quintiles did not get the contract.

Neither of the two privately-owned CROs we asked – PPD and inVentiv – would tell us much when we emailed to see if either had signed a strategic alliance with Pfizer.

PPD’s Ned Glascock told us: “As a general policy, and because of confidentiality agreements with our clients, I hope you will understand that PPD neither confirms nor denies involvement in any specific study or work with any specific client​.”

CROs Pfizer deal

Similarly, Danielle DeForge from inVentiv said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Pfizer and continue to provide them with a wide range of best-in-class CRO services to help them achieve their clinical goals faster and with higher quality results.​   

She added that: “As with all our clients, we defer inquiries on partnerships to the client company.”

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