Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British non-clinical CRO that acquired U.S. CRO Harlan Laboratories nine months ago, has launched a rebranding of the combined companies and has set its expansion sights on competing against early-phase giants Charles River Laboratories and Covance.
The new corporate name, which is planned to be announced in the next few months, will reflect the integrated management structure already in place, now with broader product service offerings.
Two core business units have been created. The larger is Research Model and Services (RMS), which provides research animal models, lab animal diets and bedding and support services. The second business unit is Contract Research Services, which offers a range of drug development and environmental science services including safety assessment, analytical, metabolism, CMC and regulatory consultancy from nine contract research facilities in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East.
“The RMS business is the second largest supplier of research models and services globally, with Charles River the first,” said Brian Cass, CEO of the combined companies. “Sixty percent of that business comes from North America, where Harlan was based and where it started 80 years ago.”
Historically, Huntingdon has been a global provider of non-clinical CRO services to the pharmaceutical, crop protection and chemical industries. Harlan has provided non-clinical research models and services, animal diets and products, as well as services to the pharma, biotech, medical device, crop protection and chemical industries, universities and government. Huntingdon purchased Harlan from Genstar Capital, which had acquired the company in 2005.
Cass acknowledged the integration of the two companies will make it stronger and more flexible, able to take on U.S. competitors by becoming a client’s one development partner for both customer service and scientific expertise. The combined company will operate from 30 sites worldwide.
The integration “allows us to consider more options that will depend on the strategic direction we take,” said Cass. “And yes, Covance (LabCorp) is a competitor in both the non-clinical CRO and RMS space.”
The Huntingdon-Harlan rebranding into two business units comes as LabCorp, following the closing of its acquisition of Covance last week, announced it will operate under two distinct segments: LabCorp Diagnostics and Covance Drug Development. Last November, LabCorp announced its plans to buy Covance, with combined annual revenues of $8.4 billion for the period ending Sept. 30. The Huntingdon-Harlan combination has 3,500 employees and sales approaching $500 million.
Cass said rebranding the two companies as one entity is the natural progression of an integration process put in place shortly after the acquisition last year. It enabled both companies to diversify the range of products and pursue business globally with new customers.
Among the new areas in the U.S. are biosimilar preclinical services, following last summer’s announcement that Sandoz had developed a version of the anti-infective Neupogen, according to Harlan. Harlan has seen an increase in demand, specifically for its preclinical CRO services for biosimilar and biopharmaceutical strategic advice.
The expected international expansion comes as some analysts are beginning to predict an improvement in the preclinical CRO service sector after several years of economic downturn had affected pharmaceutical sponsors’ R&D outsourcing budgets.
Asked whether the Huntingdon-Harlan will expand further in the U.S. market, Cass said the current focus is to successfully integrate the two companies and grow the business.
“This integration has made us stronger and more flexible,” he said. “So we would be more able to take advantage of opportunities that may arise in the future, if that is the strategic direction we take.”
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