ICON, the global provider of outsourced development services based in Ireland, has hooked up with another local contract research organisation (CRO) in China, this time to boost its central laboratories network in the Asia Pacific region.

The ICON Central Laboratories division has partnered with Fountain Medical Development Ltd (FMD) to open a new laboratory facility in Tianjin, China. It is ICON’s third central laboratory in the Asia Pacific region to date, joining existing facilities in Bangalore (India) and Singapore.

In April, ICON formed an alliance with local CRO Tigermed Consulting to ease client access to patients in China’s fast-growing market for clinical trials and the pharmaceutical industry.

ICON Central Laboratories China will offer a range of testing services, including chemistry, haematology, coagulation and immunology, from 3,000 sq ft of space in Tianjin, 70 miles from Beijing and described by ICON as “one of China’s most accessible and technologically advanced cities”.

The Tianjin facility will provide support services to clinical investigators throughout China, helping to expedite study completion by cutting the distance between clinical trial sites and existing laboratory testing facilities, ICON says.

The new central laboratory was accredited by the College of American Pathologists in May and is Level 1 certified by the US-based National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP).

Fountain Medical Development is a full-service CRO with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, China as well as representation in the US. It main field of operations is China and South East Asia.

Chief executive officer Dan Zheng said the partnership with ICON Central Laboratories “gives the FMD team access to the resources, systems and infrastructure of a large international organisation involved in the management of both large globalised trials and localised studies. In return, our local knowledge and experience will be utilised by ICON as they work to provide clients with a faster and more cost-efficient service”.

NIAID contract

In unrelated news, ICON Clinical Research will be supplying clinical support services to the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) together with local partner Technical Resources International (TRI), which offers a range of outsourced services spanning the communications, health and information technology sectors.

TRI and ICON Clinical Research, its subcontractor, have been awarded a Clinical Research Operations and Management Support (CROMS) contract by the NIAID, part of the US National Institutes of Health. The initial award is worth US$19 million, with a potential contract value of US$171 million in total over seven years.

The two partners will provide the NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases with support for study protocol development, clinical site monitoring, training, pharmacovigilance, quality management and the CROMS data system.