US-based contract research organisation (CRO) PPD has strengthened its capacity to deliver Phase I clinical trials by establishing preferred provider relationships with a network of sites across North America.

PPD has tied up with Commonwealth Biomedical Research in Madisonville, Kentucky; CNS Network in Los Angeles, California; and Lovelace Scientific Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lovelace Respiratory Research, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas and Sarasota, Florida. 

According to the CRO, these relationships will enhance its ability to recruit patients and volunteers for Phase I trials across a broad range of therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, central nervous system and renal/hepatic diseases, and to provide clients with an integrated offering that spans preclinical and Phase I-IV clinical trials, data management and monitoring services.

“Patient volunteers currently account for approximately 40 percent of all participants in Phase I studies,” commented Cindy Doerfler, vice president of PPD's Phase I clinic. “By choosing to build relationships with sites that have demonstrated superior quality and the ability to recruit for various patient populations, we provide our clients a very flexible model for patient enrolment, site location and therapeutic expertise.”

Expanding its Phase I services will enable PPD to work even more closely with clients in determining early proof-of-concept for drug and biologics candidates that need to go directly into patients, the company added.

The CRO is hiring senior project managers in North America who will oversee the development of its networks and manage Phase I trials conducted through the associated sites. PPD plans to implement this model in other regions such as Central and Eastern Europe and the Asia Pacific countries.

Jefferies & Company estimates the Phase I outsourcing market at US$2.3 billion in 2010 and expects it to grow at a compound annual rate of 6% between 2010 and 2015, the CRO noted. PPD already operates a 300-bed Phase I healthy volunteer clinic in Austin, Texas, which it says is “one of the largest in the world”.