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Frontage Laboratories acquires Advanced Biomedical Research Inc. to expand services
MALVERN, Pa.—Frontage Laboratories, a five-year-old CRO that provides bioanalytical, preclinical and drug development services, announced that it has acquired a "significant equity interest" in Advanced Biomedical Research Inc., a Princeton, N.J.-based CRO which operates clinical trials internationally. Frontage will complete the buyout in a second stage now planned for the end of summer. The companies will continue operating under their respective managements initially, but according to Dr. Michael S. Willett, president and CEO of ABR, changes can be expected in certain administrative and finance areas over time.
"Many CRO's are structured around a core expertise," says Frontage's Ron Connolly, senior VP-operations. "Often clients have to move to a second source for IND, for example, and to another for clinical trials. The combination of our expertise with ABR's will provide a resource that clients can rely on from discovery through Phase IV clinical trials." He notes that with the completion of the initial phase acquisition, the combined resources of Frontage and ABR offer formulation development, bioanalytical and GMP testing services, Phase I-II study performance in a 72-bed clinical research facility, and multinational Phase II-IV CRO services and FDA approval.
Frontage now operates facilities in Malvern, near Philadelphia, and Shanghai, China, where the company has established "good traction," according to Connolly, by providing U.S.-quality service. Though not huge by any standard, the company employs about 60 scientists in Malvern and another 30 in China and is adding another two per month, Connolly states. ABR's staff numbers about 85 full-time and contract personnel and the company has been involved in more than 400 clinical trials since opening its doors in 1994.
Both men emphasize their soon-to-be-united companies' "proactive client-centric focus."
"We always felt we had to be full-service on the clinical side," Michael Willett notes, and Connolly agrees. "We solve problems for clients who have technically difficult drugs. The strategy we provide includes help on structuring programs and advice on where best to invest Series A and B money to move the process along as expeditiously as possible."
"Years of partnering with Frontage have already proven the synergies of our combined resources and capabilities," Willett observes. "The formal combination of our skill sets will enable us to more fully meet the complete spectrum of our clients' needs."
"A key goal of our business model has been to improve the efficiency of contract drug development," adds Dr. Song Li, Frontage president and CSO. "This acquisition is a critical step in our commitment to provide clients with the most dedicated, caring and results-oriented services available. The Frontage-ABR team will help our clients conserve resources and accomplish this goal in a cost-effective manner."
Perhaps reflecting on some of the woes that have beset many CROs, ABR's Willett says he likes to call the new entity a "thinking CRO. We are supposed to accelerate the drug discovery and development process, not just perpetuate it. To do this we can't just make the donuts with whatever ingredients are thrown our way."