UK-based contract research organisation (CRO) Chiltern has widened the footprint it established just under a year ago in Latin America by acquiring Vigiun, a full-service CRO with headquarters in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Founded in 1999 by Eduardo Forleo and Elisa Halker, Vigiun has “extensive experience” with clinical trials in a range of therapeutic areas, particularly infectious disease, oncology and respiratory disease, Chiltern said.

In May 2008, Chiltern took its first steps into the Latin American market when it appointed Oscar Podesta as general manager for the region. The initial focus was on setting up an office in Argentina but Chiltern said it would then look at expanding into Brazil, Peru and Chile.

The longer-term ambition was to develop the Chiltern business in Latin America along the lines of the CRO’s operations in Central and Eastern Europe, where it first set up in Kiev (Ukraine), then in swift succession opened offices in Warsaw (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic) and, latterly, St. Petersburg.

Following the acquisition of Vigiun for an undisclosed sum, Dr Forleo has been appointed Chiltern’s country manager for Brazil and medical director for Latin America. His co-founder Halker will serve as Chiltern’s director of clinical operations for Brazil.

Latin America has a population of 503 million and 192 million of them are in Brazil, Chiltern pointed out. “This vast population provides a significant number of potential patients in all disease areas,” it commented, adding that Latin America is “rich” in experienced investigators and known for its high-quality data and “excellent” patient retention in clinical trials.