Post-merger PRA makes another buy, grabbing CRI Lifetree

Two months after merging with ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services to form the world's fourth-largest CRO, PRA is back on the buyer's block, snatching up the early-stage-focused CRI Lifetree.

Without disclosing financial terms, PRA said it's getting one of the nation's largest providers of patient-population Phase I services, planning to fold CRI's 200-bed clinical pharmacology capacity into its Early Development Services segment. Furthermore, CRI is among the few centers in the world capable of running human abuse liability studies, which are required for testing central nervous system compounds, PRA said, helping the CRO expand its offerings in the fast-growing therapeutic area.

Through the deal, PRA can now offer its clients a full range of Phase I-II clinical research services, adding in CRI's 250 employees and three clinics across the country, Executive Vice President Willem Jan Drijfhout said.

"PRA's Early Development Services division and CRI Lifetree are a perfect fit," Drijfhout said in a statement. "We both have a strong scientific foundation and now, with a total of 500 beds and 8 clinical pharmacology units, we will be able to bring our wide range of highly-specialized services to our clients as one of the largest Phase I organizations in the world."

The latest deal is part of private equity heavyweight KKR's efforts to build a colossal CRO, first buying PRA off of Genstar Capital for $1.3 billion in June, and then paying an undisclosed sum to snatch RPS from Warburg Pincus, three years after that company bought it for $227 million. Now, with the CRI deal, PRA will employ more than 10,000 people across 80 countries.

- read the announcement

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