US-based contract research organisation Pharm-Olam International has formed a new global ophthalmology division, to be led by the company’s chief scientific officer, Dr Maria Verdugo.

The ophthalmology division will provide strategic, operational and consulting services to clinical trial sponsors, with the aim of maximising potential and minimising the risk of development from Phases I to IV, Pharm-Olam said.

It noted Dr Verdugo’s prior experience with eye care specialists Alcon (as vice president of global medical affairs) and Allergan (as senior medical director). As such, she is well versed in product portfolio planning, review and management, due diligence, and market evaluation/risk assessment of in-licensing opportunities.

Dr Verdugo “has successfully achieved global marketing authorizations for new chemical entities through effective conception, streamlining and implementation of clinical, regulatory and business strategies”, Pharm-Olam added.

Designing and executing ophthalmic clinical trials “can be quite different than other therapeutic areas”, commented John Hovre, the company’s chief operating officer. “Maria has a proven track record of excellence in achieving these trial objectives that are vital to our industry.”


Pharm-Olam has also appointed Connie Andrews as vice president of global services. Andrews has more than 28 years’ clinical research experience across multiple therapeutic areas, most recently as the global biotech unit head of “a major global CRO”, the company noted.