Quintiles has been on an acquisitions spree.
On Oct. 19, the CRO announced it had bought observational research services company Outcome Sciences, as well as sales and commercial services firms VCG & Associates and VCG Bio. A week later, Quintiles said it was buying large bioanalytical lab Advion BioServices.
Prior to these three, the CRO had made only one other acquisition this year, that of Italian regulatory and market services company Temas in March.
Why the sudden ramp up? The company is just trying to fill some holes and add new capabilities, said Greg Connors, vice president of corporate development. “These three sales just happened to converge at the same time,” said Connors. “But we consistently look for opportunities to provide more value-added services and extended leadership in science.”
Connors said Quintiles likes to grow both organically and through acquisitions, but did accelerate acquisitions more recently. “We did step that up in the last year or so,” he said.
Neal McCarthy, managing partner of investment banking firm Fairmount Partners, said often when a company has several acquisitions coming to fruition at roughly the same time, it will try to bundle them into one or two announcements instead of making several separate ones. This makes it look as if several buys are happening at the same time, he explained, when instead they all may have been coming together over a several-month period.
Each of Quintiles’ new acquisitions is in a different area of the CRO’s business, stretching from phase I though sales and marketing.
The Advion buy, said Quintiles Global Laboratories senior vice president Thomas Wollman, gives Quintiles holdings in phase I areas in which the CRO was lacking. “As we’ve looked at how we need to grow the business, and at the expectations, needs and requests of our customers, we saw we were short in the bioanalytical area, particularly in metabolomics,” he said.
Also key with that acquisition was 19-year-old Advion’s recently inked strategic partnership with Eli Lilly. Spun off from Cornell in 1993, Advion has about 180 employees in three U.S. locations.
Outcome Sciences, an observational research firm based in Cambridge, Mass., was also acquired to fill a gap in the company’s offerings, said Connors. “We are strong in phase IIIb and phase IV, but on the observational side, we weren’t that strong yet,” he said. “They increase our capabilities substantially. They are the leading company out there.”
Outcome, founded in 1998, has 250 employees. The company handles registries, post-approval research and quality improvement projects across the biopharmaceutical, medical device, government and provider sectors.
Connors said Quintiles hadn’t worked with Outcome before, but when the CRO decided it needed an observational research company, Outcome emerged as the one to buy. “We did this in the classic way you might do acquisitions: we came up with a strategic plan, did a market research scan of the players, identified this one as the best and approached them,” he said, adding that their talks took about a year.
The smallest acquisition of the three is the combination of VCG & Associates and VCG Bio, based in Holliston, Mass., and Cave Creek, Ariz., respectively.
Quintiles said VCG brings experience in the areas of market access, distribution and reimbursement implementation. Its services are tailored to biopharma companies looking to establish a commercial presence in the U.S. and drug development companies entering the commercial space for the first time.
The addition of VCG strengthens Quintiles’ commercial services in sales and brand solutions, product solutions, product distribution and market access, said Connors.
“We have evolved our business into brand solutions, adding value by helping companies understand how to launch products, how to get them on formularies,” said Connors. “VCG has 25 people who specialize in that, consultants as well as a field force.”
Quintiles had been working in tandem with VCG on projects for years, said Connors.
More acquisitions could be coming, according to Connors. “We can’t be specific, but there are other areas to round out, other areas to extend our leadership in science. We also look at regions of the world that we want to become stronger in. Asia Pacific is one.”
But don’t look for Quintiles to add more of what it already has. One criteria for all Quintiles’ acquisitions, Connors said, is that they need to be additive. “What we don’t do is look for acquisitions that are just a smaller version of what we already do. We focus only on new capabilities or new geographic areas.”