CRO consolidation

International CRO acquisition deals popular in Q2

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LONDON, WILMINGTON, N.C. & TOKYO—May proved a busy month for M&A deals in Europe and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as companies snapped up both contract research organizations (CROs) and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs).
Most recently, global CRO Chiltern snagged Integrated Development Associates Co. Ltd. (IDA), a CRO that is focused on bringing Japan and Asia into global drug development, for an undisclosed sum. Following the close of the deal, IDA will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiltern under the name IDA, a Chiltern Company. John Winebarger, founder and CEO of IDA, will continue to lead the company and will join Chiltern’s leadership team.
“The acquisition of IDA is driven by our commitment to establish a substantial presence in all major global markets and support our clients with clinical development capabilities worldwide,” remarked Dr. Jim Esinhart, Chiltern's CEO. “Japan and Southeast Asia are among the world’s largest and fastest-growing pharmaceutical markets. IDA will enable us to grow in the APAC region through well-established relationships and local expertise and knowledge.”
IDA has facilities in Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia, and offers services from Phases 1 to 4, particularly in regulatory and development pathways for Japan and applying pan-Asian clinical trials in order to meet Japanese and global regulatory requirements. IDA can advise clients on market, medical and regulatory strategy, provides comprehensive management of products’ clinical development and offers “services to support commercialization planning and implementation through identification of and assistance in negotiations with potential licensing partners,” as noted on the company’s website.
Winebarger noted in the announcement of the deal that “[T]he acquisition by Chiltern enables us to expand our offerings and value to clients by gaining access to Chiltern’s therapeutic and regulatory expertise, scientific and operational knowledge and portfolio of technologies—worldwide. It is particularly meaningful for us that we can expand our services in this manner backed by senior management of Chiltern that is fully supportive of IDA’s unique strategic approach to integrated development for Japan and Asia.”
“Similarly, Chiltern will now have access to IDA’s expertise in establishing regulatory and development pathways for Japan and implementing global and pan-Asian clinical trials to achieve both Japanese and global regulatory objectives,” he continued. “Together, we can now offer our global customers access to all key markets worldwide, while optimizing product development to maximize speed and efficiency.”
Meanwhile, in Europe, Swiss CDMO Lonza finalized its acquisition of PharmaCell B.V., a cell and gene contract manufacturer based in the Netherlands, for an undisclosed amount. PharmaCell saw sales of €11 million in 2016. The company has a manufacturing facility in Geleen, the Netherlands, and another in Maastricht, the Netherlands; these facilities were GMP certified in 2012 and 2006, respectively.
Alexander Vos, CEO of PharmaCell, commented: “Over the last seven years, we have been able to contract many of the blue-chip cell therapy companies. I am proud of my team, which has been able to deliver high-quality GMP manufacturing services in this emerging and challenging field.”
PharmaCell brings with it expertise in autologous cell and gene therapy manufacturing, including experience with two commercial Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products-licensed products, and offers services for Phases 1 to 3 clinical trials. Since being established in 2005, the company has been the manufacturer of the only two European-approved commercial cell therapy products.
“PharmaCell’s position in the market complements Lonza’s leadership position in the allogeneic cell manufacturing market,” said Andreas Weiler, head of emerging technologies at Lonza. “This acquisition broadens Lonza’s capabilities in Europe and positions Lonza as the only contract development and manufacturing organization to offer an international cell and gene therapy manufacturing network, spanning the United States, Europe and Asia.”
A few thousand miles east and south of there—in Sydney, to be exact—George Clinical, along with Vector Oncology, announced that George Clinical had acquired the latter’s Pharma Services (CRO) division, effective immediately. George Clinical is a full-service CRO with headquarters in Australia and facilities in 11 countries, though its major operational hubs are based in East Asia, China and India. This transaction gives the company a U.S. presence, thanks to Vector Oncology being based in Memphis, Tenn.
Though no financial details were released, the transaction stipulates that Sean Hart, executive vice president and managing director of Vector Oncology, will lead George Clinical’s U.S. operations as well as its global late-phase study offerings.
“The Vector Oncology Pharma Services (CRO) team is excited to become part of George Clinical and to extend our services into new geographies, with leading experts in other chronic disease areas,” Hart said in a press release. “It is difficult to find two companies more suited to each other. The marriage of scientific and operational excellence has been a core value of Vector Oncology since the organization’s inception. Dr. Lee Schwartzberg and Dr. Ari VanderWalde will continue in their roles as scientific leaders and consultants in oncology research under the George Clinical banner. We are confident that the foundations of scientific, operational and personal excellence will be continued and strengthened under this new arrangement.” 

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