Frontage Laboratories acquires Advanced Biomedical Research Inc. to expand services

Frontage Laboratories, a five-year-old CRO that provides bioanalytical, preclinical and drug development services, announced that it has acquired a “significant equity interest” in Advanced Biomedical Research Inc., a Princeton, N.J.-based CRO which operates clinical trials internationally.

Lloyd Dunlap
MALVERN, Pa.—Frontage Laboratories, a five-year-old CRO thatprovides bioanalytical, preclinical and drug development services, announced thatit has acquired a "significant equity interest" in Advanced Biomedical ResearchInc., a Princeton, N.J.-based CRO which operates clinical trialsinternationally. Frontage will complete the buyout in a second stage nowplanned for the end of summer. The companies will continue operating undertheir respective managements initially, but according to Dr. Michael S.Willett, president and CEO of ABR, changes can be expected in certainadministrative and finance areas over time.

"Many CRO's are structured around a core expertise," saysFrontage's Ron Connolly, senior VP-operations. "Often clients have to move to a second source for IND,for example, and to another for clinical trials. The combination of ourexpertise with ABR's will provide a resource that clients can rely on fromdiscovery through Phase IV clinical trials." He notes that with the completionof the initial phase acquisition, the combined resources of Frontage and ABRoffer formulation development, bioanalytical and GMP testing services, PhaseI-II study performance in a 72-bed clinical research facility, andmultinational Phase II-IV CRO services and FDA approval.

Frontage now operates facilities in Malvern, near Philadelphia,and Shanghai, China,where the company has established "good traction," according to Connolly, byproviding U.S.-quality service. Though not huge by any standard, the companyemploys about 60 scientists in Malvern and another 30 in Chinaand is adding another two per month, Connolly states.  ABR's staff numbers about 85 full-time andcontract personnel and the company has been involved in more than 400 clinicaltrials since opening its doors in 1994.

Both men emphasize their soon-to-be-united companies'"proactive client-centric focus."

"We always felt we had to be full-service on the clinicalside," Michael Willett notes, and Connolly agrees. "We solve problems forclients who have technically difficult drugs. The strategy we provide includeshelp on structuring programs and advice on where best to invest Series A and B moneyto move the process along as expeditiously as possible."

"Years of partnering with Frontage have already proven thesynergies of our combined resources and capabilities," Willett observes. "Theformal combination of our skill sets will enable us to more fully meet thecomplete spectrum of our clients' needs."

"A key goal of our business model has been to improve theefficiency of contract drug development," adds Dr. Song Li, Frontage presidentand CSO. "This acquisition is a critical step in our commitment to provideclients with the most dedicated, caring and results-oriented servicesavailable. The Frontage-ABR team will help our clients conserve resources andaccomplish this goal in a cost-effective manner."

Perhaps reflecting on someof the woes that have beset many CROs, ABR's Willett says he likes to call thenew entity a "thinking CRO.  We aresupposed to accelerate the drug discovery and development process, not justperpetuate it. To do this we can't just make the donuts with whatever ingredientsare thrown our way."
 

Lloyd Dunlap

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