Merck Serono, a division of Merck, and contract research company Quintiles have entered a new five-year clinical development agreement, one that the firms are describing as the first of its kind between a biopharmaceutical company and a biopharmaceutical services provider. The collaboration, they say, is geared to create a comprehensive process that can integrate the expertise and experience from both organizations into a single clinical development engine. The objective is to expedite the delivery of new therapeutic options to patients with high medical need across Merck Serono’s core research areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology, and immunology.

Merck Serono will, under the agreement, shape and lead the strategy of its clinical development programs, with Quintiles directing clinical trial planning and execution. Quintiles also will be a key contributor to Merck Serono’s future clinical trial design activities. To fully leverage the expertise of both organizations, according to the companies, leaders from Quintiles will collaborate in strategic decision-making processes affecting the development of the Merck Serono portfolio.

Going forward, Quintiles will be the sole primary provider of Merck Serono’s outsourced clinical development services for its global clinical programs. The agreement will span the full spectrum of clinical development, from Phase I through to post-marketing approvals. It will also, they hope, allow Merck Serono to expand its reach globally by leveraging the local expertise of Quintiles to implement development programs around the world. 

“By combining the strengths of Merck Serono and Quintiles, we are creating a new model in clinical development that will unlock the knowledge and insights of both companies,” says Annalisa Jenkins, evp and head of global development and medical at Merck Serono. “This is an innovative and unique collaboration that will help to translate the highest-quality science into efficiency and agility throughout our clinical trials, while enhancing our competitive position in an increasingly challenging environment of clinical drug development.”

This isn’t the only area in recent months where Merck Serono has been trying out new models. Just this past month, they set up a novel research collaboration to start innovative projects under the roof of a center operated by BioMed X, one that will reportedly focus on establishing a completely different way of fostering innovation.

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