Two globally active contract research organisations (CROs) have beefed up their international presence by acquiring other CROs in established and emerging markets for clinical trials.

The established market is the US, where the UK-headquartered Chiltern has snapped up Bristol, Tennessee-based Clinical Trial Management Services, Inc (CTMS) and appointed the company’s president and chief executive officer (CEO) to head up Chiltern’s American operations.

The emerging market is Central America, where the US-headquartered Quintiles Transnational Corp. has acquired Panama-based CRO Bio-Trials. In neither case was the purchase price disclosed.

Chiltern said CTMS offers extensive experience with clinical trials across a wide range of therapeutic areas, with an emphasis on respiratory disease, gastrointestinal conditions, the central nervous system, infectious diseases and ophthalmology. Established in 1989 by Dr Robert Vann, John Vann and Ben Essary, the US company has a staff of 190 distributed between offices in Bristol and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

While Robert Vann is retiring, John Vann, formerly president and CEO of CTMS, assumes overall leadership of Chiltern’s US operations as executive vice-president Americas. From February 2008, the CTMS business will carry the Chiltern name.

According to Chiltern CEO Glenn Kerkhof, the CTMS acquisition “significantly increases our presence and expertise within the US and strengthens Chiltern’s position as a global CRO. CTMS and Chiltern have compatible cultures and are equally focused on delivering high-quality services to the pharmaceutical, device and biotech industries.”

Increasingly important region

Quintiles described Bio-Trials as a leading Central American CRO with offices in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru. The company also has supply distribution points in Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru.

Bio-Trials provides clinical monitoring, clinical site co-ordination, regulatory support, study management and supply distribution services. It has conducted some 30 clinical trials in 10 Central and South American countries for clients including a number of major pharmaceutical companies and global CROs.

The acquisition by Quintiles Latin America gives its parent company “an experienced, well-established team as well as access to an experienced network of independent investigators in the increasingly important Central American region”, noted Jeff Thomis, Quintiles’ president of global clinical development services. “Our customers are increasingly including Central America as part of their global drug development programme,” he added.

Quintiles Latin America was founded in 1995 and has its headquarters in Argentina. The subsidiary already employs nearly 600 people in six countries and has conducted more than 300 trials involving over 30,000 patients.