Irish contract research organisation (CRO) ICON has added global heft to its US-based staffing business by acquiring DOCS International, a European clinical research staffing organisation based in the Netherlands, for around $40 million in cash.

Founded in 1997 and operating in eight European countries, DOCS International focuses on the training and supply of contract and permanent clinical research personnel for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The acquired company will be integrated with ICON Contracting Solutions, the CRO’s existing US-based staffing business, to form a global unit.

This will enable ICON to meet sponsors’ needs for more flexibility when they run clinical projects internally, allowing them access to a global pool of talent through a single vendor, the CRO noted.

Chief executive officer Peter Gray said the acquisition gave ICON “a significant presence in the European clinical research staffing market and creates a strong platform which we can leverage for future expansion.”