Former Cetero shutters its operations, leaving sponsors and patients locked out

When CRO Cetero Research crashed and burned after a falsified data scandal, its new owners rebranded it PRACS Institute and tried to give contract research another go on the straight and narrow. That effort has failed, however, as the company reportedly shut down last week with almost no notice to employees, sponsors or patients.

As FierceBiotech points out, Cetero came under the FDA's gun in 2010 when the agency accused the CRO of systematically filing fake work hours at its Houston lab, finding 1,900 instances over a 5-year period in which lab workers reported results that plain didn't exist. The fallout proved too much for the CRO to stay in business, and, in June, its investors bought it out and renamed it PRACS.

But the new effort came to a halt last week, when the Fargo, ND-based PRACS closed its doors with little word to its 316 workers, the Grand Forks Herald reports. "(We) heard nothing at all," one employee told the paper. "We were told, 'Thank you for hanging with us through this tough time.'"

PRACS hasn't responded to calls or emails all week, and it remains unknown what the sudden shutdown means for its clients. In St. Louis, where PRACS operates a clinical center, employees reportedly posted a sign saying all studies were indefinitely canceled, leaving patients out in the cold.

The company has been in Fargo for about three decades, the Herald reports, and the sudden job loss has apparently been jarring to the city's business community: The newspaper reported this morning that a local restaurant and a furniture store are offering gift cards to former PRACS employees.

- read FierceBiotech's story
- check out the Herald's write-up
- here's more from the newspaper