Less than a month after it announced a definitive agreement to acquire fellow US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Kendle International for around US$232 million in cash, INC Research has bulked up its Asia Pacific presence by taking over Australia’s Trident Clinical Research.

Financial terms of the latest agreement were not disclosed. Trident will retain its existing identity as a wholly owned affiliate of INC Research, operating as Trident Clinical Research, an INC Research company through its offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia, as well as Auckland in New Zealand and Mumbai in India.

INC had already characterised the Kendle merger as hoisting it into the top ranks of CROs, with the critical mass and global scope to address the trend towards strategic outsourcing in the clinical research sector.

Global agenda

The deal with Trident pushes that global agenda further, specifically in the Asia Pacific region, with INC noting that Trident’s Mumbai operation would “increase the reach of INC Research’s already sizeable clinical and data operations located in Gurgaon, India”.

It also identified Australia as a key market for clinical trials. Based on data from the Economist Intelligence Unit, the country offers “significant cost advantages, has a highly efficient regulatory system according to timeline indicators and is a desirable location to conduct early-phase clinical trials, especially when compared to the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and Singapore”, INC said.

With its “very rapid” study timelines, Australia is becoming a “prime destination” for first-in-man and early-phase studies, the company added.

Phase I strength

Within this environment, Trident brings to the table a leading position in designing and reporting Phase I trials as well as managing advanced Phase I facilities, “fully leveraging the streamlined regulatory process in Australia for clinical trials to drive efficiencies for their customer’s projects”, INC Research said.

Founded in 1997, Trident has grown into “one of Australia’s largest, and most respected, CROs”, with more than 100 employees across the three countries in which it operates, a full range of clinical research services, and diverse therapeutic experience, INC pointed out. It also cited the company’s “outstanding working relationship” with key Phase I units in Australia.

“The R&D opportunities in Australia, New Zealand and India for cost-effective local and global drug development programs are enormous,” commented Trident managing director and co-founder Garth Tierney, who will take up the role of regional general manager, Australasia at INC Research.  

James Ogle, chief executive officer of INC Research, said Trident was “an important piece in our strategy to build a sustainable CRO business that both satisfies and anticipates the global drug development needs of our customers”.

INC has been active on the acquisition front since private equity firm

Avista Capital Partners and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan agreed to acquire the CRO from an investor group led by Crosspoint Venture Partners and Adams

Street Partners last August.

Prior to the Kendle deal, INC announced in January that it was taking over the team and research products

of strategic consultants AVOS Life Sciences for an undisclosed sum.