ICON, the global provider of outsourced development services based in Ireland, has raised its profile in the fast-growing Chinese market by signing an alliance agreement with local contract research organisation (CRO) Tigermed Consulting.

ICON and Tigermed are teaming up to offer pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients better access to Chinese patients, using ICON’s global reach and experience combined with Shanghai-based Tigermed’s wide-ranging presence in China and in-depth knowledge of the local drug development landscape. Tigermed operates from 21 offices with more than 300 clinical development staff in China.

The CRO has been pursuing a strategy of rapid expansion and internationalisation, which includes linking up with counterparts in other markets. In March 2009 the company formed an alliance with MacroStat, a US-based CRO active in China and specialising in clinical data management.

The previous November, Tigermed had hooked up with CROs LSK and OCT in Korea and Russia respectively, citing its goal of integrating “resources for the expansion and establishment of a global clinical trial network”.

ICON said the agreement with Tigermed would complement its strong presence across the Asia Pacific region. According to its Chinese partner, the alliance “enhances our regional and global capabilities and will enable both ICON and Tigermed to expand the range of clinical research services in China and around the globe”.

As one illustration of the country’s importance as a destination for offshoring clinical development, the cumulative number of trials in China logged on US-based registry ClinicalTrials.gov grew from 698 as of 1 March 2008 to 1,515 two years later.