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GSK Taps PPD As Key Ally

GSK Taps PPD As Key Ally [The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.]

From News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) (September 18, 2010)

Sept. 18--GlaxoSmithKline has chosen two contract-research organizations to handle its future clinical drug development: PPD of Wilmington and Parexel International, based in Massachusetts.

The news is a blow to other CROs in the Triangle, which is a hub for the drug-research industry.

GSK spokeswoman Melinda Stubbee declined to name other companies that submitted bids.

The British pharmaceutical company, which has its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park, has some contracts with Durham-based Quintiles that will continue. Quintiles spokesman Phil Bridges declined to comment Friday.

Contract-research organizations conduct clinical trials during the development of drugs. Such companies also are increasingly investing in new medicines, as they bet on the payoff of promising drugs.

As with other large pharmaceutical companies, GSK is cutting costs to offset slower sales and competition from generic medicines. It has slashed hundreds of local jobs and reduced its real-estate holdings.

In June, GSK chief executive Andrew Witty told analysts that GSK would move from working with "30 CROs down to just a couple" to cut costs and streamline its outsourced clinical work.

Details of GSK’s "strategic relationships" with PPD and Parexel are still being negotiated, Stubbee said.

PPD is based in Wilmington and employs about 1,400 people in the Triangle. The company was started 25 years ago by Fredric Eshelman, a 1972 graduate of UNC’s pharmacy school who is now PPD’s executive chairman.

"We are pleased GSK has selected PPD to enter into a strategic relationship to streamline and accelerate GSK’s clinical development programs," David Grange, PPD’s CEO, said in a prepared statement.

PPD shares rose 9 cents Friday to close at $24.78. The stock is up 19 percent in the past year. or 919-829-4572

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Posted: September 2010