Charles River bolsters IT spending to stand out in CRO crowd

Charles River Laboratories ($CRL) is banking on preclinical IT to differentiate it from other CROs, increasing its spending on the sector 20% in the second quarter. And the Massachusetts company says the investment has paid off in a growing market share.

As global demand shrinks, CROs the world over are fighting over the same slice of business, and Charles River is betting that boosting its IT infrastructure can give it a leg up, CEO James Foster told investors. Clients want their data secure and available in real time, and Charles River poured money into its IT department to facilitate that, Foster said.

All this as the company reported a 2.6% decline in sales for its research models and services unit and just 0.9% growth in preclinical services. But Foster said the company's focus on IT helped it snag a partnership with an undisclosed Big Pharma last year.

"The actions we have taken over the last four years to harmonize and standardize our preclinical sites have been instrumental in giving our clients the confidence to place work at multiple sites," he said. "Data is easily accessible and consistent, regardless of site."

And Charles River is hardly the only CRO looking to data solutions for a competitive edge. Parexel ($PRXL) and Quintiles both tout their IT expertise, and IT giant Accenture ($ACN) recently bought Octagon Research Solutions, promising to help drugmakers navigate the approval process with computer modeling.

- read FierceBiotech IT's report
- check out Charles River's Q2 results

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