PPD latest pandemic victim as it too yanks full-year guidance


The ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty and the impact on its trials has caused PPD to pull its 2020 guidance, like so many other contract research organizations, to try to work its way through the coming financial year.

In its first-quarter financials posted Thursday, the big CRO said it was pulling its full-year guidance after “some customers have delayed new studies and/or paused ongoing studies or certain activities in ongoing studies, such as patient recruitment, patient enrollment, site visits and site monitoring.”

It said this has increased with “uncertainties associated with the extent and duration of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic” as well as its ability to “mitigate related disruptions.” PPD follows PRA Health and Icon on having to rethink its financial projections for the year.

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In a bitter irony, the CRO had, like many others, a good quarter, recording just over $1 billion in sales for the first quarter, more than 11% growth on the year-ago period. But going forward, this growth may not be replicated.

“While we were pleased with our strong commercial and financial results for Q1, our full attention is focused on navigating the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, most importantly, ensuring the health and safety of our employees, patients and customers,” said David Simmons, PPD’s chairman and CEO.

“We are coordinating closely with customers to minimize study disruptions where possible and ensure continued access to drug supply for patients in ongoing studies.” Simmons added that PPD was “actively working on 39 studies related to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.”

RELATED: PPD unit launches patient-transfer trial program to help ease pandemic cancellations

But it’s trying as hard as it can to find a path through. Last month, it also set up a “quick response” to COVID-19 and its disruption of ongoing studies across biotech and pharma, saying it had invested in and teamed up with the likes of virtual trial specialists Medable and Science 37 and is “rapidly deploying innovative solutions to mitigate study challenges.”

Before this and also in March, it started a new program via its Accelerated Enrollment Solutions unit that sees it transferring clinical trial patients to its research sites from other trial facilities hit by COVID-19 disruption.

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