Biogen and Quintiles ink a deep-seated deal to boost R&D efficiency

Quintiles CEO Tom Pike

Going well beyond the standard sponsor-CRO relationship, Biogen Idec ($BIIB) has recruited Quintiles ($Q) to revamp its clinical development process, giving the contractor a seat at the R&D table to improve trial efficiency.

Under the 5-year deal, a dedicated Quintiles team will step in and help design, plan and run Biogen's Phase II-IV studies, the companies said, also pitching in on select early-stage projects. For Biogen, the goal is to tap Quintiles' scale and technology to improve the transparency, quality and, ultimately, success of its clinical endeavors, the biotech said, outstripping the old-fashioned transactional model.

The agreement follows a similarly wide-ranging deal between Quintiles and Merck KGaA, in which the world's largest CRO signed on to help the struggling drugmaker steer its R&D program. Thanks to its global reach and decades of experience, Quintiles is uniquely positioned to strike up such deep-seated deals, CEO Tom Pike said, and the CRO believes the two agreements are signs of things to come in R&D.

"Our partnership with Biogen Idec exemplifies the ongoing evolution of drug development collaboration and reinforces the increasingly important role that biopharmaceutical service providers such as Quintiles have in these efforts," Pike said in a statement. "We are extremely excited about this agreement and the increased interest we are seeing for these types of innovative development deals."

Biogen, maker of the fast-selling multiple sclerosis pill Tecfidera, is hardly in the trying straits that led Merck KGaA to seek Quintiles' help last year, but the big biotech sees room for improvement in its development process, Chief Medical Officer Alfred Sandrock said. And Quintiles, which has had a hand in all 50 of the top-selling drugs on the market, made for an ideal partner, he said.

And Biogen's take on Quintiles would seem to be a popular one. Last quarter, the CRO cleared a record $1 billion in service revenue, thanks to a more than 10% jump in its product development arm. The company is expecting service revenue to come in between $4.1 billion and $4.2 billion in 2014, amounting to as much as 9% growth.

- read the announcement

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