Quintiles homes in on small biotechs with new service offering

Quintiles clinical development president Paula Brown Stafford

Emerging biotechs have well-documented concerns about working with big CROs. Their scale, technology and expertise is all alluring in the courtship stage, but when, say, Pfizer ($PFE) and Merck ($MRK) come calling, smaller drugmakers fear they'll get marginalized or saddled with a clinical C team.

Quintiles ($Q), the world's largest CRO, is dialing up its focus on such nascent companies, launching a biotech-focused service offering designed to meet the particular needs of the industry's seedlings without losing them in the Big Pharma shuffle.

Dubbed the Quintiles Emerging Biopharma Solution, the company's new model guarantees real-time data access and senior-level sponsorship for every customer alonside all the scalable clinical know-how it offers to all of its clients, giving small biotechs the attention they need to nimbly follow through on make-or-break projects, according to Quintiles.

"Emerging biopharmaceutical companies have been important Quintiles customers throughout our 30-plus year history, and we understand the unique challenges they face," Clinical Development President Paula Brown Stafford said in a statement. "This new offering focuses squarely on those challenges--combining an operational model designed to meet these customers' needs with access to Quintiles' global infrastructure, integrated technology and therapeutic expertise. It is a combination we believe will help provide superior delivery and improve the probability of success for this customer segment."

The move comes after Quintiles paid about $150 million for Novella Clinical, an oncology-focused CRO that largely dealt with small and mid-size drug developers. The company said it has worked with more than 240 small biotechs since 2009, and its net new business from such clients grew about 250% in the first 6 months of 2014.

Meanwhile, thanks to the boom in IPOs and venture capital funding, biotech companies are increasingly well-funded. And the world's CROs have taken notice. Like Quintiles, inVentiv Health has unveiled a bespoke offering for emerging companies, and KKR, the private equity heavyweight that pieced together the new PRA, went out and bought the biotech-focused CRI Lifetree to augment its CRO conglomerate.

- read Quintiles' release

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