Toronto clinical research firm tests U.S. expansion


Toronto-based clinical research firm BioPharma Services Inc. says its new clinic in Missouri is helping it meet growing demand from U.S. pharmaceutical makers.

The company’s early phase clinical development facility, located in Columbia, Missouri, currently has 48 beds and has plans to expand to 140 beds.

The clinic, which has been operating since last November, has completed three studies and expects to conduct another four to six by the end of the year, Renzo DiCarlo, chief executive officer of BioPharma Services, said in an interview.

“There happens to be a shortage of clinical research companies in the U.S. right now for this type of work. We wanted to go quickly to fill that unmet need for our clients,” DiCarlo said. “It seems to be working quite well.”

The ribbon cutting for the Columbia site, slated to take place on Wednesday, will include Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid, and executives from leading pharmaceutical companies, BioPharma said in a release.

BioPharma is based in North York, near Weston Road and Steeles Avenue West, where it has a 174-bed clinic that specializes in what are known as first in human laboratory trials, as well as generic and bioanalytical testing. The facility meets government inspection standards for the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

One of the pharmaceuticals it is currently testing is an anti-coagulant, DiCarlo said. Demand for blood thinners is on the rise because of the risk of blood clots that comes with the growing use of knee replacements.

“The odds of having a blood clot are quite high because of the extent of the surgery,” DiCarlo said. “Getting a better product out on the market which prevents blood clots is a significant improvement to the health and well-being of the public.”


About 40 per cent of BioPharma’s clients are U.S. drug makers, another 40 per cent are based in Europe and the remaining portion are Asian companies, DiCarlo said. “We do clinical trials and lab testing for clients regardless of geography and jurisdiction.”

BioPharma Services was founded by a group of doctors and medical professionals in 2006. The privately held firm is still owned and operated by physicians, DiCarlo said. It has annual revenues of about $30 million.

“We are very proud of what we’re doing and that we’re expanding outside of Canada,” DiCarlo said. “We are a Canadian company that’s growing.”



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