Building on its existing strategic partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb for global clinical development services, ICON has now announced a preferred provider agreement with BMS for early-phase studies.

The new agreement covers full-service clinical pharmacology and exploratory clinical studies. In June 2010, ICON and fellow outsourced development specialist Parexel signed three-year agreements with BMS to provide joint strategic, operational and capability support for the latter’s clinical development programme.

Last May, both ICON and Parexel also entered into five-year strategic alliances with Pfizer to implement the company's clinical trial programmes. The  two-partner model was designed to simplify Pfizer's outsourcing processes and

to clarify accountability in risk and quality management as trials got underway.

ICON said in May that Pfizer would be leveraging its expertise in programme initiation

and management; site and country feasibility; data management and reporting

set-up; study drug logistics; scientific and medical communications; and quality


Broad range of services

Under its preferred provider arrangement with BMS for early-phase development, ICON will supply a broad range of clinical pharmacology and exploratory clinical trial services, including studies at its US Clinical Pharmacology Units in San Antonio, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska, as well as its UK facility in Manchester.

ICON will also be responsible for all scientific support services, such as protocol design and development, project management, clinical monitoring, medical monitoring/pharmacovigilance, data management, biostatistics, pharmacokinetics and medical writing.

Operational efficiencies

“We are pleased that Bristol-Myers-Squibb has again chosen ICON to bring greater operational efficiencies and high-quality science to their drug development programmes,” said Dr Mario Rocci, president of ICON Development Solutions.

“Both companies already have a very successful global partnership for phase II-IV clinical development and central laboratory services, and we look forward to demonstrating the same value and efficiencies to Bristol-Myers-Squibb’s early phase clinical programmes,” Rocci added.

ICON expects to realise “significant cost savings and productivity” under the preferred provider agreement by leveraging its global network of clinical research units, scientists, project teams and associated technology.

Alliance costs

Announcing its second-quarter results in July, ICON substantially lowered its guidance for earnings per share in 2011

to accommodate a sharp rise in costs as the company geared up for new business

under its new strategic alliance with Pfizer.

Chief executive Peter Gray reassured investors at the second-quarter stage that “significant work” would be transitioned to ICON over the next two

years as the partnership developed, “which should drive an acceleration in our

growth over that time”.