Covance has expanded its clinical pharmacology presence in Europe with the recent acquisition of Swiss Pharma Contract, a contract research organization (CRO) in Basel, Switzerland, for an undisclosed sum.
Covance has offered clinical pharmacology services in Europe for more than 20 years through a facility in Leeds, England. However, the Swiss Pharma facility will be the company’s first foray into clinical pharmacology in Switzerland.
“This acquisition significantly increases Covance’s early clinical development footprint in Europe and gives our clients access to special patient populations for phase I/IIa clinical studies,” said Covance CEO Joe Herring in a company statement. Covance now has 11 clinical pharmacology units, located in the United States and Europe.
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Covance gains a 50-bed clinical pharmacology facility, increasing the CRO’s global clinical pharmacology capacity to 550 beds in the United States and Europe. The Leeds and Basel units have 112 total beds.
The Basel facility will continue to be led locally by Rolf Pokorny, M.D., Swiss Pharma’s head of clinical research/biometrics, and Michael Seiberling, M.D., head of clinical pharmacology. They will report into Covance’s Leeds, UK, unit. All Swiss Contract employees (approximately 100) will be offered employment at Covance.
“We don’t want to lose anyone, especially the principals. One reason this unit was so attractive to us is that they do the high science. They’ve got excellent medical and scientific staff, and we certainly don’t want to lose that,” said Mary Westrick, vice president and general manager of Global Clinical Pharmacology at Covance.
Swiss Pharma has provided clinical research services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries since 2002, conducting more than 200 complex clinical trials—a third of which were first-in-human studies. Although Covance had not worked with the company before this acquisition, Swiss Pharma has a strong reputation for its clinical pharmacology capabilities, Westrick said.
“They have a lot of medical and scientific depth, and they’re well-known for being able to figure out thorny problems for our clients. For Covance, that fits in with our clinical pharmacology brand,” Westrick said. “We also knew that our clients wanted some more choices in terms of where to place studies because we are concentrated in North America at this point, with Leeds being our only [clinical pharmacology] unit outside of North America. They were a very good choice: great reputation, great body of work, wonderful people and their location was very desirable to us.”
The acquisition of Swiss Pharma is a coup for Covance, Westrick said.
“[At a recent conference], I had several competitors come over to me and say, ‘Gee, you really got a great unit there. We really love them. We wish we’d gotten them.’ Several clients came over to us and told us they’d had excellent experiences with Swiss Pharma Contract as well. We’ve gotten really good feedback,” she said.