The early phase services will allow sponsors to access a molecule solution team made up of Covance experts from nonclinical, clinical and regulatory disciplines experienced in early drug discovery and development.
The service launch may be another indicator that early phase outsourcing work is continuing to pick up in the industry. In February 2014, analysts indicated that demand for early discovery work was picking up, and later in the year Covance saw its early phase work rebound.
“At Covance, we have seen a 20% increase in emerging biotech activity in early development in the last two years alone,” Steve Street, VP & Global General Manager of Covance early development, told Outsourcing-Pharma.com. “As we speak with biopharma clients, we hear about their difficulties in achieving continuity of science when they have to work with multiple providers to piece together all of the scientific and regulatory capabilities required to advance their molecules through key milestones. The outcome of each individual study in a program needs to be factored into the decisions about each future study to ensure the development program is on track.”
Street added: "Our market research showed that the two greatest challenges our biopharma clients face today are continuity of a drug development program – both scientific and operational – and the need for stronger outsourcing partnerships."
The newly developed early phase teams from Covance will also now offer insight on companies’ strategic program designs from nonclinical through to first-in-human ready, Phase II ready, proof-of-concept and full-development. The operational efficiency of the dedicated team enables Covance to ensure achievement of accelerated program timelines.
“Our Early Phase Development Solutions teams are collectively focused on one common goal. We help design the studies, deliver the data, and support critical decision making to increase the chances of delivering asset value and the unique target product profile for the partner as fast as possible,” Street added.
The teams will also stay with a client's program through a molecule’s development which it claims will minimize hand-offs. The teams will help Covance accelerate operational timelines, and Covance will guarantee such achievements for initial clients signing on to the Early Phase Development Solutions strategy by offering a partial credit to the sponsor if certain agreed upon timelines are not achieved.
"With Early Phase Development Solutions, our biopharma clients don't have to choose between comprehensive capabilities and the simplicity of a single point of contact," said Deborah Keller, EVP and Group President, Covance R&D Laboratories. "Covance is the only drug development firm with the scientific expertise, experience and operational infrastructure to ensure continuity throughout a molecule's early development."
Street also said he doesn't believe the company's integration with LabCorp will hinder its early phase work. "I believe, if anything, our ability to serve our clients after the acquisition by LabCorp will only strengthen," he said.