US-headquartered clinical outsourcer inVentiv Clinical Solutions is establishing a base in Latin America in response to the region’s growing importance for drug development.

The business, a division of inVentiv Health, will set up shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil and plans to expand its operations to other Latin American countries. The initiative will be led by Dr Ana Paula Ruenis, who was recently appointed as inVentiv Clinical’s director of clinical operations, Latin America.

Dr Ruenis will be responsible for oversight of project management and monitoring of all Latin American investigative sites for studies conducted by inVentiv Clinical. Before joining the division, she spent more than eight years in clinical research, representing top US pharmaceutical clients in South America and managing trials in various phases and therapeutic areas from protocol design to site and patient recruitment to final report submission, inVentiv Clinical noted.

“Having already established full offshore operations in India, the expansion of our clinical operations into Latin America is an important next step in our goals to become a global clinical services provider,” said president and chief executive officer Mike Hlinak.

Operating as inVentiv Pharma Services Pvt Ltd, inVentiv Clinical offers resources in data management, biostatistics and SAS (Statistical Analysis System) programming from sites in Mumbai and New Delhi, India.

In January 2006, the then Ventiv Health announced the formation of Ventiv-SIRO (India), a joint venture between the Ventiv Clinical Services division and leading local contract research organisation (CRO) SIRO Clinpharm Pvt. Ltd to provide India-based clinical data management services.

Opening an office in Sao Paulo recently, US-based CRO MDS Pharma Services cited a 1,000 per cent increase in the number of clinical trials conducted in Brazil between 1995 and 2000.

According to MDS Pharma, an estimated 645 Phase I-IV clinical trials are currently underway in Brazil. While the incidence of heart disease, arthritis, cancer and infectious diseases in the country is on a par with the US, a larger percentage of the Brazilian population is treatment-naïve, the company pointed out.