Dublin, Ireland-based Icon announced it had bought PMG Research on Monday, explaining that the organisation's 48 clinical centres in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Illinois would help it accelerate patient recruitment.
Icon is not the first contract research organisation (CRO) to have reached out to independent trial sites in the past couple of months.
In September, PRA partnered with the Alliance for Multispecialty Research (AMR), a network of 20 independent research centres in the US, to accelerate recruitment in its clients’ vaccine studies.
A few months earlier PPD formalized relationships with eight investigator sites to create a paediatric investigator network (PIN) to "speed trial start-up, more predictably enrol patients and offer higher quality data to clients."
Others like Parexel – a fellow Pfizer strategic partner with Icon – have also sought to connect with trial sites.
In February the firm told us it aimed to expand its then 180-strong clinical trial site alliance network to accelerate patient recruitment.
The major difference with Icon’s deal is that it is an acquisition.
However, it is not likely to be the last according to David Blume, managing director of healthcare deal brokers Edgemont Capital Partners, who told us the contract research sector’s bete noire – patient recruitment – would be the catalyst.
“CROs and other companies focused on addressing challenges in subject recruitment are increasingly looking to acquire sites to build their own in-house capability rather than rely on third party service providers.
“Research sites are the last mile in clinical research and far and away represent the most fragmented service component” Blume said, adding that the economies of scale provided by owning sites will improve clinical trial performance in both quality and speed.
“As CROs continued to seek future growth, site consolidation offers multiple benefits from improving service to opening an avenue to additional growth” he continued, adding that “and we see this trend increasing.”