Covance has reorganized its early-stage drug development work into a new division dedicated to discovery services, antibody products and immunology. The new group, Discovery and Translational Services, integrates the CRO’s Biomarker Center for Excellence, formed in 2009, with its Genomics Laboratory and existing partnerships with Caprion Proteomics and Rules-Based Medicine.
Covance has an exclusive partnership with Caprion for its proteomic biomarker services and, as part of that deal, is a minority equity owner in the company. Caprion acquired PPD’s biomarker services division in January. Rules-Based Medicine provides multiplexed protein biomarker testing to Covance clients.
Covance’s early-stage business has come a long way from the beginning of the year, when the company reported a 5.2% year-on-year decline in early-stage revenues as a result of reduced demand for early-development services. At that point, Covance told investors to expect early-stage earnings to be flat in 2010. However, business picked up in the first quarter, and, by the release of the company’s Q1 financial statement last month, Covance’s early-development segment net revenues were up 6.5% (to $205 million) over the first quarter of 2009. At that time, the company said it expects early-stage earnings to grow sequentially throughout the year.
Covance has a lot riding on early-stage drug development. In August 2008, the CRO acquired Eli Lilly’s preclinical research facility in Greenfield, Ind., for $50 million, hiring 264 Lilly employees and committing to $1.6 billion in work over the next 10 years for the pharmaceutical giant. As part of this deal, Covance took over all of Lilly’s toxicology testing and discovery support activities at Greenfield.
“Increasingly, our clients are looking for drug development companies that can provide a full spectrum of services and expertise from early drug discovery through late-stage clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance,” said Joe Herring, chairman and CEO of Covance, in a statement. “Through a series of strategic investments and alliances, we have enhanced our early-stage drug R&D capabilities and gained an impressive array of world-class talent and technologies in genomics, proteomics, biomarkers, and discovery services such as early safety and efficacy testing, in vivo pharmacology and imaging. As a result, Covance now has a comprehensive range of integrated services across the drug R&D continuum that can help clients make faster and more effective decisions about their portfolios.”
Covance senior vice president Deborah Tanner will oversee the new division as president of Discovery and Translational Services and president of Central Laboratory Services. Jonathan Koch, vice president and general manager of Covance’s Greenfield, Ind., campus, is the new vice president and general manager of Discovery and Translational Services.