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Excel Life Sciences and PFC Pharma Focus Open CRO in India

Monday, June 29, 2009

Indian site management organization Excel Life Sciences (ELS) and Swiss contract research organization (CRO) PFC Pharma Focus (PFC) have formed an exclusive partnership to launch a new CRO in India.

The CRO, PFC India, will offer study planning, monitoring, audit and data management services to drug sponsors needing clinical trial support in India. Set to open in New Delhi in July, the new office will be operated and staffed as a division of PFC, with ELS providing specific country expertise.

Both PFC and ELS have seen an increase in global demand for CRO services in India in recent years. The partnership enables PFC to extend its clinical research services from Europe and Israel (where PFC also has an office) to India while Excel will be able to meet increased client demand for clinical trial monitoring services in India.

Switzerland-based PFC was drawn to India as a business location because of the availability of patients, a well-trained medical community and high-quality universities, said PFC CEO Kurt Pfister, Ph.D.

“The clinical research industry in Europe is more and more congested, especially in a few indications. It’s difficult to find patients and to plan exact timelines where you can recruit a certain number of patients,” Pfister said.

PFC offers phase I to phase IV clinical research services, as well as medical writing and training in pharmaceutical medicine and development of risk management plans. Because this is PFC’s first foray into the Indian clinical trial market, the company chose to partner with an India-focused company.

“We searched around for some time for an ideal partner because we realized it’s very difficult for us to establish a company in a completely different cultural environment–where you don’t know the legal environment and you don’t know the medical environment well. It was important for us to partner with a company that can bring in this local experience and knowledge,” Pfister said.

The two companies are well-suited for this partnership, said ELS’ chief operating officer Mohit Mehrotra, because of their similar size, scale and operating philosophy.

“While the big CROs and multinationals are [in India], based upon our client base, it’s not practical or ideal to have an organization like ELS stand up with one of the larger CROs who very often are out of the price range of some of our clients,” Mehrotra said.

ELS, which is headquartered in Chicago, already has offices in Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and 21 other locations across India.

“I think what we will lend is the experience of being in India and helping Dr. Pfister and PFC avoid some of the pitfalls that one might have without the local experience or expertise,” Mehrotra said.

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