Indian contract research organisation GVK Biosciences is reportedly looking at the possibility of acquiring an overseas rival, probably in the USA or Europe, in order to get closer to its customer base among the leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

The Times of India said that the company is eyeing mid-sized CROs that would give it a platform for expansion into Western markets and consolidate on its leading position in India.

GVK Bio has downplayed the suggestion, although its chairman, former Ranbaxy head DS Brar, has a track record of snapping up overseas companies. Whilst at Ranbaxy he oversaw the purchase of French generics group RPG from Sanofi-Aventis and Bayer’s generics unit Basics in Germany.

The company has also been successful in winning big pharma customers to its portfolio of services, which span medicinal and process chemistry, informatics, clinical pharmacology, clinical research, biology and knowledge process outsourcing.

In January GVK Bio won a five year contract with Wyeth – estimated to be worth in the region of $8 to $10 million a year – to establish a medicinal chemistry site with 150 scientists working for the US drugmaker.

At the time, GVK Bio’s chief executive, Mr Sanjay Reddy, said the alliance with Wyeth could pave the way for other international companies to look at long-term contracts with Indian contract research organisations.

This view is echoed by a study published late last year by Bain & Co, which estimated that total spending on outsourcing clinical trials to India could top $2 billion by 2010, although it still has a long way to go with the total market currently estimated at less than $200 million.

GVK Bio is well-placed to reap the benefits afforded by that swingeing growth having been voted the best Indian CRP by Proximare in 2005, and among Business Today’s ‘Top 20 companies to watch in 2006’.