ICON, the international provider of outsourced development services based in Ireland, is ratcheting up its presence in China and the wider Asia-Pacific region by acquiring BeijingWits Medical Consulting Ltd, a full-service Chinese contract research organisation, for an undisclosed sum.

The agreed deal is subject to closing conditions and is expected to be done and dusted in the first quarter of 2012.

As well as boosting ICON’s service capabilities in China and other Asia Pacific countries, BeijingWits will raise the company’s physical profile by bringing on board more than 100 “highly qualified and experienced” clinical research professionals operating out of offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Hong Kong, ICON pointed out.

Set up in 1997, BeijingWits provides Phase I to IV clinical trial services to global and local pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology companies. According to ICON, it is a “renowned expert” in Chinese regulatory processes and a leading advocate of International Conference on Harmonization Good Clinical Practice standards in China.  

Exciting stage

Noting ICON’s “strong growth plans” for China and the Asia Pacific region, Dr Yan Bin Xie, founder and general manager of BeijingWits, said the clinical research market in China was “at an exciting stage and combining our local knowledge with ICON’s global infrastructure and experience will offer clients a formula for successful clinical development”.

ICON framed the deal as another step in its ongoing expansion programme for China and the Asia-Pacific region.

“An increasing number of our global clients are looking to undertake research in China and local companies are also placing more emphasis on R&D, which has resulted in growing demand for local clinical trial expertise,” explained chief executive officer Ciaran Murray.  

BeijingWits will help ICON to address that demand with a strong leadership team, experienced staff and good relationships with local investigator sites and regulatory bodies, Murray added.