Private equity’s appetite for the clinical-research sector is extending beyond the assortment of contract research organisations that have ended up in private hands over the last few years.

New York-based firm Arsenal Capital Partners, which invests in middle-market healthcare, speciality industrial and financial-services companies, has announced the acquisition of Copernicus Group Institutional Review Board (CGIRB), an independent provider of federally mandated IRB – or ethics approval – panels in the US and Canada. No financial details were disclosed.

Copernicus reviews and signs off research protocols, investigators, subject information and consent forms to ensure compliance with federal regulations both before and during studies research involving human participants.

With offices in the US and affiliates in Canada, the company’s clients are mainly clinical research organisations as well as major drug and medical device sponsors throughout North America. Copernicus's headquarters are in Durham, North Carolina.

Stephen McLean, a partner at Arsenal and co-head of the firm’s Healthcare Group, said Copernicus had “a well-deserved reputation as the most technologically advanced central IRB in the world”.

Dr Donald Deieso, operating partner and co-head of Arsenal’s Healthcare Group, will become executive chairman of Copernicus IRB under the new ownership.    

WIRB acquisition

Earlier this year, Arsenal acquired Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB), which it describes as “the leading global IRB to major research institutions”.  

WIRB and Copernicus “will continue to serve their unique client segments through separate organizations and management”, Deieso commented.