Some interesting things are happening regarding the research of the pharmaceutical companies. In a previous note five years ago, I discussed how these companies were outsourcing drug research and trials to contract research organizations (CROs) (see: CROs Continue to Prosper; Benefits of Big Pharma Outsourcing). More recently, I posted notes about how the CROs and genomic reference labs are seeking CLIA certification in order to gain more of the clinical lab testing business (see: CLIA Certification and CRO/Pharma-Owned Molecular Diagnostic Labs; IT Support for Cancer Genomics; Moving to Practical Clinical Solutions). All of this adds up to the fact that the partition between research and clinical lab is becoming more porous. This trend has continued but now with an additional twist -- Covance is setting up a relationship with academic institutions in Indiana. This was detailed in a recent article (see: Covance and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute Establish Agreement). Below is an excerpt from it:
Covance ....and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), part of the Indiana University...School of Medicine,...announced an agreement to collaborate in conducting early clinical trials for new medicines on behalf of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. This alliance provides a significant opportunity to bring more Phase I clinical research to Indiana, through the clinical research unit located within the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis and Covance’s clinical research unit located in Evansville....Working together, the two organizations will conduct high-quality research in a safe and regulated environment for sponsors who are looking to recruit both healthy volunteers and patients for early clinical studies. “The alliance with the Indiana CTSI will help us provide biopharmaceutical clients with quicker access to patients in a hospital setting that supports specialized care and monitoring,” said Rob Aspbury...[of] Covance. “With quicker access to patients, we can streamline the drug development process and bring important new medications to patients who need them.” ....The alliance between Covance and the Indiana CTSI was facilitated by BioCrossroads, an organization that advances Indiana’s signature strengths in the life sciences by connecting corporations, academic institutions, and philanthropic organizations. ....Covance has been conducting Phase I clinical trials for more than 35 years....The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration of Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame to facilitate the translation of scientific discoveries in the lab into new patient treatments in Indiana and beyond.
Here's some more information about Covance from a financial analyst (see: Covance, Inc. CVD):
As the leader in central laboratory testing, Covance is an ideal partner for large drugmakers looking to streamline outsourcing through a strategic arrangement with one CRO. Covance has been highly successful at locking in long-term partnerships with some of the world's largest drugmakers, and we think new strategic alliances could provide additional upside potential this year. We expect the cost advantages, time savings, and flexibility offered by CROs to dramatically increase outsourcing penetration among drugmakers, potentially increasing the value of the CRO market by 30% during the next five years.
The pharmaceutical companies for many years have outsourced much of their research activities to CROs like Covance. Now, Covance, in turn, is creating strategic relationships with academic institutions like the University of Indiana and to other academic institutions in the state through CTSI. The academic institutions are anxious for some of the Phase I clinical trial business because many of their federal grants are drying up due to sequestration and budget cut-backs. This quote from a Covance executive tells it all: The alliance with the Indiana CTSI will help us provide biopharmaceutical clients with quicker access to patients in a hospital setting that supports specialized care and monitoring. The academic medical centers can provide efficient access to patients for Phase I studies.