Covance and Quintiles are the latest international contract research organisations (CROs) to benefit from the accelerating trend towards strategic outsourcing of drug development functions.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, the US subsidiary of Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, announced that its Pharmaceutical Development Division had entered into strategic partnerships with what it called “two of the world’s largest full-service contract research organisations”.

Covance and Quintiles will work in close partnership with Takeda to plan and execute global development programmes in support of new compounds across the therapeutic spectrum, but with the exclusion of oncology.

Takeda will have access to the clinical development capabilities and central laboratory services of Covance and Quintiles, with each CRO providing dedicated resources to support Takeda’s drug development pipeline.

The company put the partnerships in the context of a global programme-level sourcing strategy, aimed at improving operational efficiency while it expands its drug development footprint worldwide, and especially in Asia.

“Through these relationships, Takeda will move toward a fully virtual outsourcing model combining the expertise and capabilities of Takeda with those of Covance and Quintiles to improve productivity and facilitate Takeda’s global growth,” the company stated.

Last autumn, Covance signed a 10-year drug development services deal with Sanofi-Aventis, estimated to be worth up to US$2.2 billion to the US-based CRO. Sanofi-Aventis also sold its sites at Porcheville, France and Alnwick, UK to Covance for US$25 million as part of the deal.

In addition, Covance has a long-term strategic alliance with Eli Lilly, which was expanded last March to include a three-year biotechnology services agreement. When Lilly announced the original 10-year partnership in August 2008, it said it was transferring its clinical trial monitoring work in the US and Puerto Rico to Quintiles Transnational.