Online Exclusives

Heeding the Call of India

By Joanna Cosgrove | July 23, 2007

Heeding the Call of India

Parexel deepens its business commitment in India with the opening of a new office

By Joanna Cosgrove, Online Editor

Boston, MA-based Parexel International Corp. has opened a new office in Hyderabad, India, to manage aspects of its clinical research and data management. The office is located in the country's sixth largest metropolis and is a burgeoning biotechnology hub. The new office comes on the heels of last year's joint venture arrangement with Synchron, an India-based clinical research organization, that formed Parexel International Synchron Private Limited, which provided Paraxel with the opportunity to offer a range of Phase II-IV clinical research services.

According to Mark A. Goldberg, M.D, the company's president, Clinical Research Services and Perceptive Informatics, Parexel's interest in India primarily boiled down to optimal patient access and the cost of patients accrual. "If you look at trials overall today, and look at what the big challenges in running trials are, by far one of the biggest continues to be the ability to recruit patients in a timely fashion," he said. "(India) is a large country with a large population of patients who are interested in participating in clinical trials. The other thing about patients in this part of the world is you tend to have patients that haven't necessarily been exposed to drugs that are more common in Western countries, meaning you can find patients who meet inclusion criteria for certain trials that are harder to recruit for in other parts of the world."

He added that India is also teeming with citizens that are technically well-trained. "Taking advantage of those technical skills for electronic studies is another of the big advantages we see," he said.

Dr. Goldberg said Parexel's new office was strategically advantageous for the company as well. "In order for us to meet the needs of our clients globally we felt it was important to have a presence in India, which we initiated with our previous acquisition of Synchron (SP) a company where we have majority ownership of the Bangalore-based clinical business for Phase II and Phase III, and with whom we also have a minority interest in another Phase I unit, also based in India," he said, noting that his isn't the only company finding India to be an attractive place to do business. "There was a recently published article that showed that there are now over 300 investigators in India who've filed 1572's, meaning that they've indicated participation in trials whose data would ultimately end up at the FDA. There's a rapidly expanding base of investigators and there's a strong base of patients."

All of this, of course, adds up to improved company margins. "The other side of the coin is ways in which we, as a global organization, can leverage a footprint that includes lower cost locations like India in order for us to be able to provide functions taking advantage of capabilities that exist in India, and also taking advantage of the fact that labor costs are lower," said Dr. Goldberg.

India's rapid economic growth has led to an expanding middle class -- a phenomenon that hasn't gone unnoticed by the world's pharmaceutical companies. India has become not just an ideal place for pharmaceutical companies to perform developmental tasks, but ultimately and most importantly, it's evolved into a prime place to sell medications. "Globally speaking, 7% of our revenue comes from Asia and our expectation is that this will continue to grow rapidly," commented Dr. Goldberg. "We believe that not just India will be important, but the rest of Asia is a huge growth opportunity because it's both a big market to sell pharmaceuticals into as well as a great location to conduct clinical trials due to the aforementioned reasons."

Parexel's partner, Apex International, affords the company access to some 10 countries in the Asia region including, but not limited to: China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia. Dr. Goldberg, surmised, "It gives us a very broad footprint in Asia and we see India as being part of that overall strategy to provide global solutions for our clients."

Joanna Cosgrove is a the online editor at Contract Pharma. She can be reached at