Australia-based CRO CPR Pharma Services will open Singapore’s first bio-analytical laboratory. CPR said the Singapore clinical trials market is expected to grow to over $166 million by 2015—with more than 80% of trials being of international origin.
Yet, to date, there has not been a locally-based, accredited provider of bio-analytical services to support the country’s growing clinical trials and R&D markets.
“Singapore is a hub to multi-national pharmaceutical companies. It has an impressive research environment and a great infrastructure, which attracts early-stage clinical trials,” said CPR’s CEO Jason Valentine, adding that the lab is expected to employ 15 technicians over the next three years and bring millions of dollars into the Singapore economy.
The lab was built and is expected to be utilized by CPR’s strategic partner, Singapore-based pre-clinical services company Maccine Pte. The strategic partnership with CPR brought a much-needed facility to the Asian region, said Maccine’s CEO Leigh Berryman. “We have been sending samples for analysis to laboratories in Europe and the U.S., which is both costly and time consuming and has an inherent risk in shipping. Now these samples can be analyzed (in accordance with Good Laboratory Practice) right here in Singapore. This is an enormous benefit to us and our client companies,” he said.
Valentine said the Singapore lab is the first paperless laboratory in the region. “By using Watson LIMS and Labnotes, we aim to maximize compliance and to—again—speed up the trial process,” he said.
Kevin Lai, deputy director, biomedical sciences, of the Singapore Economic Development Board, welcomed the opening of the CPR Lab. “This new facility will provide pharmaceutical companies with research services to advance their drug development needs and boosts Singapore’s capability in providing faster, more cost-efficient and high-quality translational and early-phase clinical research,” he said.
The global CRO market is estimated at $27 billion, with annual growth of 15%, according to Frost & Sullivan, and this growth is largely being driven by Asia and Eastern Europe. Phase I and II clinical trials are increasing in Singapore due to a strategic governmental focus on early-stage clinical trials and investments made by major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly.
During the past five years, multiple pharmaceutical companies have set up R&D facilities in Singapore. In 2010, Roche announced a $134 million translational medical research hub in Singapore. In addition, Pfizer, Merck and Eli Lilly have joined forces to create the Asian Cancer Research Group to accelerate research into lung and gastric cancers in Asia.
The Singapore government is strategically targeting specific therapeutic areas for its CRO sector, including oncology, which is estimated to constitute 40% of all pharmaceutical R&D projects.Singaporeis home to three public and three commercial phase I clinical trial sites and, according to Valentine, “modern early-phase clinical trial design relies on a fast turnaround of samples, so that escalation of dosage can occur. Currently delays with couriering samples to theU.S.and/or Europe is impacting the efficiency of trials being conducted in Singapore.”
Launched in 2009 after a spinoff from the University of South Australia in 2006, CPR has grown rapidly into one of Australia’s premier CROs for early-stage clinical trial work. “In our first three years we have had 30% compound annual growth in revenue,” said Valentine. “We now have over 100 clients, half of which are U.S.-based.”
In 2010, CPR’s Adelaide facilities were audited by the FDA, the first existing laboratory to have an FDA audit. “The FDA audit and approval is really the gold standard,” said Valentine, “and it is a huge selling point from a global competitiveness perspective.”