US-based drug development services company Covance has teamed up with local laboratory testing company BML to open a central laboratory for Covance clinical trial samples in Japan.

Under an exclusive five-year agreement, the CB Trial Laboratory, located within the BML General Laboratory in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, will be used solely for testing samples from clinical studies conducted by Covance in Japan.

Accredited by the College of American Pathologists and with Level 1 certification from the US National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program, the CB Central Trial Laboratory will perform safety and HbA1C (haemoglobin A1C) testing using the same methods, instruments, reagents, standards and controls as at Covance’s four other central laboratories in Indianapolis (US), Geneva (Switzerland), Shanghai (China) and Singapore.

This will “help ensure the highest quality, fully combinable global data for Covance’s clients”, the company said. BML is providing complementary, market-specific client services including kit customisation, local logistics services and on-site logistics training.

Recent efforts by Japanese regulators to cut drug development timelines have created “significant interest” among pharmaceutical companies in conducting clinical trials in the country, noted Deborah Tanner, Covance’s president, central laboratory services and discovery & translational services. Partnering with BML was “the best opportunity to service the growing needs of our clients and to meet the unique requirements of studies in Japan”, she commented. 

“BML, with its 55-year history, extensive testing capabilities and stellar reputation, will help us enhance and extend our service offerings in Japan by managing the kit packaging and sample collection logistics that are so critical to meeting our Japan-based clients’ expectations,” Tanner added.

BML president Yutaka Arai said the company was “looking forward to the exposure to global studies we’ll gain through our affiliation with Covance”.  Headquartered in Tokyo, the company offers a wide range of laboratory testing services, from biochemical and haematological to speciality tests such as cellular immunological and DNA genetic analyses.