WuXi, PRA plan to launch joint venture in China

WuXi PharmaTech ($WX) and PRA are joining forces to launch an independent CRO in China, combining their capacities in the country to create a jointly owned venture for Phase I-IV clinical trial services.

The as-yet-unnamed JV will draw on WuXi's clinical and regulatory expertise and PRA's IT and research know-how, the two companies said. WuXi will supply laboratory services through a preferred provider arrangement, while PRA will pitch in technology and the use of its global infrastructure for clinical trials.

WuXi said the two companies are a match in terms of reputation and corporate culture, and the growing opportunity in China makes for an ideal time to pool resources and better compete in the world of outsourced drug development, CEO Ge Li said.

"China's pharmaceutical market today is the third largest in the world and growing very rapidly," Li said in a statement. "Biopharmaceutical companies increasingly need sophisticated clinical-trial management services to gather the highest-quality data in Chinese patients to complete Chinese and international regulatory filings as quickly and successfully as possible. We aim to become the clinical trial service provider of choice in China with the highest quality standards and operational excellence."

For PRA, partnering with China's largest CRO was the next logical step in its ongoing expansion into the country, CEO Colin Shannon said, and the joint venture follows PRA's opening of a second outpost in the country--a Beijing HQ to support its operations in Shanghai.

Once the new CRO is up and running, the two heavyweights will market its services to their clients, which include luminaries like AstraZeneca ($AZN), Amgen ($AMGN) and Merck ($MRK).

- here's the announcement