Growing Novotech makes its way into Africa

Novotech CEO Alek Safarian

Australian CRO Novotech is heading west with its global expansion effort, opening up shop in South Africa to broaden its access to diverse patient populations.

Novotech has been managing trials in the country through consultants for three years, CEO Alek Safarian said, but the jump in demand for South African research led the CRO to seek a brick-and-mortar presence of its own in Johannesburg.

Novotech's move is a response to client demand, Safarian said, as South Africa's patient makeup dovetails with the pipelines of many U.S.-headquartered biotechs.

"HIV and TB are serious health challenges in some South African patient populations, while metabolic diseases common in the U.S. and Australia such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension are also on the increase," Safarian said in a statement. "As the leading market for clinical trials in Africa, there are currently over 1,700 studies registered on the South African Department of Health online registry."

Novotech bills itself as Australia's largest contract drug developer, and the company's latest expansion follows last summer's move to reach into Hong Kong and the Philippines, fueled by the CRO's sale of a 30% stake to private equity firm Mercury Capital. Novotech's service platform now covers 11 countries, including New Zealand, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong.

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