In another sign of the growing importance of early-phase services to the CRO sector, US-based contract research organisation Covance has relocated and significantly upgraded its clinical pharmacology research unit at the company’s home base in Evansville, Indiana.

The purpose-built, stand-alone facility, which represents a US$12.4 million investment, will serve as “a premier clinical research unit for conducting first-in-human studies and other complex trials requiring special attention”, Covance said.

Situated on the campus of Deaconess Hospital, the new US facility includes a USP (United States Pharmacopeia) 797-compliant pharmacy for sterile compounding, a large on-site CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) –standard laboratory for immediate turnaround of human laboratory samples, and a hospital-style audible emergency call system for patient safety.

The Evansville clinic has a database of some 41,000 volunteers for participation in Phase I clinical trials, Covance noted.

The project’s completion rounds off a two-year clinic investment programme that has included upgrading of facilities for clinical research units in Austin, Texas; Daytona Beach, Florida; and Honolulu, Hawaii.