Chinese CRO attracts $40M, powerful connection in venture round

Pharmaron, a clinical research organization with deep roots and some powerful political connections in China, has rounded up $40 million in venture capital. The CRO says it will use the cash to bolster its expertise in drug discovery, preclinical GLP toxicology capabilities and GMP chemical synthesis services. And it's hoping to ride the crest of two waves: A push among pharma companies to outsource more clinical development work and a shift in the R&D industry toward China.

"Recently, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry has undergone fundamental changes as it has responded to increased productivity demands," said Pharmaron CEO Dr. Boliang Lou. "Building long-term partnership with CROs has become part of many pharmaceutical and biotech companies' corporate strategy." DCM, Legend Capital and GL Capital Group, which is headed by the ex-CEO of Novartis China, Jeffrey Li, provided the funds. Li is the son of former Politburo standing committee member Li Ruihuan and is considered one of the "children of privilege" in China, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.

"Our strategic investment in Pharmaron will boost Pharmaron's service capability and capacity to serve the pharmaceutical and biotech industry better, which in turn will add additional value to all the stakeholders involved," said Li. Pharmaron's Web site states that the company has more than 1,200 employees in China and the U.S.

- here's the Pharmaron release