Algorithme Pharma, a Canadian contract research organisation (CRO) that specialises in bioequivalence studies and early-stage development, has gained a foothold in the US market by acquiring a new clinical research centre in Baltimore.

The Clinical Pharmacology Research Unit (CPRU) was sold to Algorithme for US$850,000 in cash by Bioanalytical Systems, Inc (BASi), a US pharmaceutical development company based in West Lafayette, Indiana. Algorithme is also assuming certain liabilities relating to the CPRU, including the lease held by BASi for the facility housing the unit.

With headquarters in Laval, Quebec, Algorithme is a privately held CRO that conducts more than 250 clinical trials a year in multi-unit facilities including a dedicated Phase I clinic opened in Montreal in September 2005. As the company noted, it already has a number of US clients and the Baltimore acquisition is seen as “the first milestone” in a US expansion strategy.

It is also part of “a vast development plan to pursue our organic growth in Canada and take advantage of business opportunities that will enable us to diversify on the international scene, both in the US and Europe”, commented Louis Caillé, president and chief executive officer of Algorithme Pharma.

The CPRU, which will now operate under the name of Algorithme Pharma USA Inc, specialises in Phase I clinical trials and bioequivalence studies. It includes 46,000sq ft of work space and 120 beds, 20 of them serving an Intensive Monitoring Unit. With three separate research units within the facility, Algorithme can carry out a number of studies in parallel, boosting its production capacity by more than 50%, the CRO said.

Algorithme is retaining the core team of around 40 employees already working at the Baltimore unit, who will supplement staff at the CRO’s facilities in Montreal and Laval. The total headcount across Algorithme’s operations is more than 500.

With the sale of the Baltimore CPRU, BASi is now exiting the market for Phase I first-in-human clinical studies.