NovAliX, a French drug contract research organization (CRO), will acquire a research facility in Romainville, France, from the Belgian biotech firm Galapagos.
Under the deal, employees at the Romainville facility dedicated to Galapagos’s drug discovery programs will all transfer to NovAliX. Galapagos has committed to a 5-year agreement to use NovAliX’s research assets.
Last year, Galapagos announced a streamlining program designed to focus its R&D on immunology and oncology and a collaboration with Gilead Sciences.
The deal is the latest in which drug company assets in France transfer to CROs. Sanofi has made several such moves, folding its Lyon infectious disease research center into Evotec in 2018, 3 years after Evotec took over Sanofi’s small-molecule drug development site in Toulouse. NovAliX itself acquired Sanofi’s R&D facility in Strasbourg in a similar deal last year.
Christine Kinnaert, business development manager with the French CRO Edelris, acknowledges the trend of drugmakers transferring research operations to service firms, noting the Sanofi deals as well as GSK’s move of its discovery site near Paris to Oncodesign in 2016.
“It is a direct way for CROs to quickly increase in capacity and drug discovery expertise,” Kinnaert says in an email. “Yet, it might not always be a straightforward journey,” given the differences between operating a pharmaceutical research lab and a client-oriented service organization.
“Anyway, the trend for pharma companies to reduce their own R&D resources is for all . . . CROs an opportunity to extend their services and develop partnership,” Kinnaert says.