US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Pharm-Olam International (POI) and its Russian affiliate MB Quest (MBQ) have opened their third Russian office, this time in St. Petersburg.

Last October POI and MBQ marked their 10th year of operations in Russia. The companies started out in Moscow, subsequently opening an office in Novosibirsk to offer sponsors more cost-effective coverage across central and eastern Russia. With the St. Petersburg office that coverage now extends to the three most populated areas in Russia, POI noted.

Previously POI and MBQ had used regional employees to service trial sites in St. Petersburg. “Because of the concentration of state-approved sites for research and the continued interest from sponsors, it made sense to establish a permanent office there,” commented Eugene Barg, president of MBQ.

The CROs expect to have 20 clinical staff at the new office by the fourth quarter of 2008. The St Petersburg location provides convenient access to a number of therapeutic hospitals in the second largest metropolitan area in Russia, they pointed out.

The number of internationally sponsored clinical trials in Russia grew from just over 100 in 2000 to more than 300 in 2007, POI said. Investigators from the US Food and Drug Administration began inspecting Russian sites in 1995 and have conducted 36 such inspections since February 2007.

St. Petersburg brings to 25 the number of offices run by POI worldwide in support of Phase I to Phase IV clinical trials. MBQ, which was founded in 1997 by Barg and Dr. Zev Munk, chief executive officer of POI, has operations in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus.