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Merck KGaA forges clinical alliance with Quintiles

CRO becomes sole outsourcing partner for pharma company

Fresh from its successful public offering, Quintiles has now signed a strategic-level deal with Merck KGaA that is being billed as a unique alliance.

The five-year deal will see Quintiles become part of the R&D fibre at Merck and makes it the sole outsourcing partner for clinical trials design, planning and execution from phase I through to post-marketing studies.

Merck said its Merck Serono pharmaceuticals unit would still "shape and lead" the clinical development programmes but Quintiles will also have a say in operational decisions and will take primary responsibility for execution.

That approach differs from other preferred provider-type alliances between pharma and clinical research organisations (CROs), which have typically kept the reins firmly in the hands of the pharma company.

Merck said that the deal is based on a "shared commitment to cost-disciplined science" and would allow it to expand its global reach by tapping into "the broad local expertise of Quintiles to implement development programmes around the world".

The two companies have been working together for some time, and last year Merck Serono's head of development Christoph Schnorr joined Quintiles as head of its European R&D consulting practice.

Like many of its peers the pharma company has been paring back R&D in a bid to boost productivity, shutting down a facility in Geneva and paring back its research focus. Moreover It has suffered a number of late-stage pipeline disappointments of late, including failures for brain and lung cancer prospect cilengitide and cladribine for multiple sclerosis.

The deal comes just days after Quintiles' oversubscribed initial public offering (IPO) which raised almost $1bn, right at the top of the anticipated range.

The IPO and Merck deal come as further endorsement of Quintiles' strategy of continually extending its outsourcing capabilities and growing in scale in order to win preferred provider deals with large pharma companies.

In April, for example, Quintiles signed a new deal making it the primary provider of Bristol-Myers Squibb's central laboratory services.

16th May 2013

From: Research

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