AstraZeneca said today it will create a combined research platform with Charles River Laboratories by outsourcing to the contract research organization its regulated safety assessment and development drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) operations.

The companies signed a three-year in vivo biology partnership agreement that expires in 2015. While the value of the deal was not disclosed, AZ did say that it began transferring programs to Charles River earlier this year, a process it expects to complete by early 2013.

The agreement is expected to add about 1% in incremental sales next year to Charles River, which reported total 2011 sales of $1.14 billion, up 0.8% from $1.13 billion in 2010.

“Our organizations will work hand-in-hand to deliver toxicology, safety pharmacology and development DMPK studies in support of our efforts to deliver safe and effective new treatments to patients more efficiently,” Stefan Platz, vp, global safety assessment for AZ, said in a statement.

The agreement with CharlesRiver comes less than two months after AZ named a new CEO—Pascal Soriot, CEO of Roche’s pharmaceutical division—in hopes of reversing its streak of late-stage setbacks with experimental medicines that the pharma giant had counted on to make up for sales revenues it is set to lose due to the “patent cliff” expiration of several brand-name drugs.

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