The partnership with ASKLEP will allow ASKA to create a presence in Japan while helping ASKLEP advance in North America. ASKLEP, which is expanding into other parts of Asia, will do all the on-the-ground work in Japan and Asia while ASKA manages North America.
“If we’re requested to submit a proposal on a global trial that involves Asia, we’ll ask our partner ASKLEP to participate with us. We are the primary CRO, and they become the CRO that is working with us in partnership, and vice versa. We expect that we’ll be able to bring clinical trials to each other,” said ASKA CEO and founder Valerie Willetts.
ASKA provides clinical trial management services to pharmaceutical companies throughout Canada, the United States and now Japan through a network of more than 200 regionally located clinical research professionals.
Clinical trial sites in Japan are underutilized, according to Willetts, and expanding to Asia has been a strategic goal for the company since ASKA was founded in 1995. Even ASKA’s name is of Japanese origin, meaning “new development,” Willetts said.
ASKA and ASKLEP executives first began discussing a strategic partnership at the DIA Annual Meeting in Boston earlier this year. The two CROs are still finalizing the details of the partnership, but Willetts hopes to have the joint alliance operating by early next year.
“We have great synergy among our team members and thought that it would be a very productive alliance to bring clinical trials to each other across the ocean,” Willetts said. “We’re working out a joint operating plan where we’re identifying a number of projects per year. We haven’t set our target yet, but, of course, it’s always the most we possibly can. This alliance allows us to be able to market ourselves as a global organization to potential clients and that’s very well-received.”
This is the third partnership of its kind for ASKA, which has similar agreements with Harrison Clinical Research Group in Munich, Germany, and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services in Cincinnati, Ohio.
ASKA is also working on structuring an alliance with a CRO in Australia and New Zealand and looking for partners in India and in South America, Willetts said.
“We’re just testing the waters with a group in India. Before we sign any agreements, we like to test the waters and work together on a clinical trial. So far it’s looking very promising,” she said.
ASKA plans to expand its internal team from six to eight full-time employees next year, and, in the future, the company may grow through acquisitions as well as partnerships, Willetts said.
“It’s an interesting time for ASKA and certainly we’ve begun to entertain that notion,” she said.