ICON looks to expand its reach

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DUBLIN, Ireland—For an initial cash consideration of $12 million, ICON—a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries—has acquired Healthcare Discoveries Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Catalyst Pharma Group Inc.

Under the terms of the agreement, if certain performance milestones are achieved in 2008, a further consideration, up to a maximum of $10 million, may be payable.

The deal adds to ICON an 85-bed clinical pharmacology unit in San Antonio, Texas and Healthcare Discoveries' significant experience of delivering high-quality early-phase development programs.

"The acquisition of Healthcare Discoveries is an important step for ICON," says Peter Gray, CEO of ICON. "It gives us a clinical pharmacology platform in the United States to complement our existing European Phase I operations. As well as gaining an outstanding facility, we are bringing into ICON an experienced team that has an excellent market reputation."

The team may be the best part of the deal from ICON's standpoint, Gray says, noting "there's something about the way we work that makes our clients come back for more."
That something, he says, is the people. Gray notes that ICON's philosophy is that people are indeed the most important asset the company has, and "it is they who have helped to make ICON the success it is. Their commitment to clients, quality and delivery is what has earned us our enviable reputation."

Healthcare Discoveries will become part of a comprehensive early-phase development portfolio within the ICON Development Solutions division, which includes an existing 80-bed clinical pharmacology unit based in Manchester, England.

ICON has more than 27 years experience in early-phase clinical research and has conducted over 880 Phase I studies.

"The investment in Healthcare Discoveries will enable us to meet the growing demand for highly scientific first-in-human and full spectrum of clinical pharmacology studies that are a critical part of the drug development process," notes Dr. Thomas Frey, president of the ICON Development Solutions division.

In addition to its adding the 85 beds in Texas, ICON recently expanded in the other direction as well, opening new offices in Prague, Kiev and Bucharest in mid-January, part of continuing expansion efforts related to ICON's clinical research activity in Central and Eastern Europe.

"The Central and Eastern European regions are emerging locales for clinical trials, and we are committed to meet the industry's needs for management of clinical trials in these areas," says Alan Morgan, President ICON Clinical Research Europe. "The healthcare environment in Central and Eastern Europe offers great opportunities and facilities for drug development.

"The expansion of ICON's capabilities is supported by the availability of large homogenous patient populations—mainly treatment naïve patients, competitive approval timelines and an important network of highly qualified investigators." 

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