Only weeks after announcing the acquisition of leading Chinese contract research organisation (CRO) Excel PharmaStudies amid a clutch of strategic initiatives to unlock the value of its businesses and raise its profile in the Asia Pacific region, PPD has done it again.

This time the US-based CRO has snapped up BioDuro LLC, a drug discovery outsourcing company with a 110,000 sq ft state-of-the-art laboratory in Beijing. As with Excel PharmaStudies, the price of the acquisition – expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009 – was not disclosed.

Once the latest deal is completed, PPD will employ nearly 1,000 staff in China, making it the largest CRO to offer clinical development and discovery services in that market, it noted.

BioDuro was founded in 2005 and most of its 660 or so employees are based in China, where the company provides “deep scientific expertise” in medicinal chemistry, biology, pharmacology, drug metabolism, pharmacokinetic and safety services, PPD said. The Chinese company’s resources extend to synthesising novel compounds and optimising them to generate candidates for drug development.

BioDuro currently works with “nine of the 12 largest pharmaceutical companies”, its new owner added. The aim is that together PPD and BioDuro will provide a broad range of research and development services to large pharmaceutical clients, from early-stage work through to Phase IV clinical trials.

“The acquisition will strengthen PPD’s presence in China and our ability to provide clients [with] an extensive range of services in this country,” commented David Grange, chief executive officer of PPD. “It will also position us well to provide services for the growing global discovery outsourcing industry and to be the full-service CRO of choice in China.”

According to Barclays Capital, biopharmaceutical companies spend US$20.2 billion per year on drug discovery research, and US$1.6 billion of that outlay is currently outsourced – a figure expected to reach US$5-US$10 billion in the next three to five years, PPD pointed out.

More than 300 staff are already joining PPD in China from Excel PharmaStudies, which offers a comprehensive range of Phase II-IV clinical services including regulatory affairs, patient recruitment, protocol design, feasibility studies, good clinical practice training and programme management.

PPD opened a Chinese office in Beijing in 2003. Last year, the company expanded its global central laboratories network into China through an exclusive agreement with Peking Union Lawke Biomedical Development Limited.