PRA bets big on Phase I studies with a new outpost and global expansions

In its first big move since pulling off a $306 million IPO, PRA Health Sciences ($PRAH) is stretching out its early-stage development efforts, expanding its Phase I heft around the world.

The Raleigh, NC, CRO is cutting the ribbon on an 11,000-square-foot outpatient facility at its Salt Lake City operation, focusing on psychiatry, neurology and pain, among other areas. In tandem, the company is adding human abuse liability study capabilities to its Lenexa, KS, site and adding patient pharmacology services into Russia.

Each move serves to expand PRA's Early Development Services business, responding to an increase in market demand for including patients as soon as possible in the clinical development process, the company said.

"With PRA conducting more than half of its Phase I/IIa studies in patients versus volunteers, these initiatives will further enhance our U.S. patient capabilities and service offerings," Senior Vice President Randall Hein said in a statement.

Since going public last year, PRA has been working to raise its profile among the world's largest CROs. In 2014, the company banked about $1.3 billion in revenue, representing 52% growth over the prior year. Now, heading into the new year, the company expects annual revenue to come in at around $1.4 billion, good for up to 10.6% growth.

Today's PRA came to be thanks to KKR ($KKR), which won a bidding war and picked up the CRO for $1.3 billion in 2013. A few months later, KKR paid an undisclosed sum for ReSearch Pharmaceutical Services and merged its two acquisitions. By year's end, the company had acquired CRI Lifetree to bolster its piecemeal CRO's early-stage capabilities, completing KKR's buy-and-merge plan.

- read the statement

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