Covance MarketPlace seeks to connect drug developers with out-licensing opportunities

Debuted at BIO, Covance's platform will showcase its clients' early-stage drug candidates

There are multiple venues for looking through drugs under development by startups to Big Pharma—in fact, the BIO organization was touting a new BIO BizLink forum for just that purpose at the just-concluded international convention (San Diego, June 22-25). But Covance (Princeton, NJ), a leading clinical research organization (CRO) believes it will provide a better channel for developers and licensees to get together in its online MarketPlace. According to John Watson, chief commercial officer at Covance, the company has working relationships with 500 biotech companies, is actively working on about 150 at any given time, and is involved in developing Investigational new drug (IND, or, for Canada and Europe, Clinical Trial Applications--CTAs) for about 45. That gives it a breadth of access that only a handful of CROs can approach.

The second justification is that the molecules that will be listed in the MarketPlace are all in various stages of development with Covance itself. ““As a trusted partner with extensive capabilities across the drug development spectrum, Covance is uniquely positioned to provide novel solutions for both our emerging biotechnology and larger pharmaceutical clients,” says Watson. Many startup companies have very limited resources to provide the efficacy, toxicology and related regulatory compliance steps leading to an approved IND application; the tendency is to bring in consultants with varying degrees of expertise in each of these areas. And that results in wide variation in the quality of testing. Covance runs its own labs for these preclinical tests, and Watson says that its level of performance can cut the preclinical development time in half, while ensuring to potential licensees that they are getting what they believe they’re paying for.

Once Covance vets the drug candidate, it is placed in the MarketPlace and access is provided “select” Covance clients.