Pharma Giant Pfizer has been on the lookout for a third strategic clinical partner for a while, telling this publication last April it was “exploring the option” of another CRO to complement its existing partnerships with Parexel and Icon.
For a while Quintiles had been touted as the favourite, but industry observers back in January told us Pfizer had selected a privately-owned CRO as its preferred partner, but since then Pfizer has been tight-lipped about revealing the unnamed firm… until now.
“Earlier this year Pfizer and Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) signed a Master Service Agreement for the provision of clinical trial services,” spokesman Dean Mastrojohn told Outsourcing-Pharma.com.
“This agreement is an evolution of our sourcing strategy and enables an expanded suite of vendors in support of Pfizer’s clinical trials.”
He added this would not affect the ongoing partnerships with Icon and Parexel, but rather complement Pfizer’s outsourcing strategy.
“PPD provides us with additional flexibility and an enhanced global reach that will help enable us to advance Pfizer's growing portfolio. We appreciate PPD’s emphasis on quality and innovation and look forward to leveraging their expertise as we launch new development programs.”
PPD spokesman Randy Buckwalter was unable to reveal more details about the deal, telling us in general “PPD neither confirms nor denies involvement in any specific study or work with any specific client” due to confidentiality agreements.
Eyes on Icon and Parexel
Certain industry observers have been aware of the deal for several months, though lips have remained sealed. ISI Evercore analyst Ross Muken said in a note yesterday the news “had long been rumoured in numerous forums.”
But whether the deal will have a negative impact on Pfizer growth at Icon and Parexel remains to be seen, he said, adding increased reliance on third-parties could in fact lead the CROs to experience a boost in business.
“The addition of a third partner could speak to a greater outsourcing push at Pfizer, suggesting that while PPD may enjoy significant bookings upside, Icon and Parexel will continue to grow with Pfizer.
“It could also speak to the fact of risk mitigation by Pfizer as they slow growth at Icon or Parexel (or both - but it does not signal loss at either) in favour of PPD.”