CROUK-headquartered Premier Research Group has signed a deal to buy the assets of fellow contract research organisation (CRO) Pivotal Research Centers, a specialist in Phase I to IIa trials, for $4.75m.

Pivotal is currently a subsidiary of Pioneer Behavioral Health, which said it intended to focus on providing programmes for people suffering substance abuse or mental health problems.

“Pivotal … contributed less than 10 percent to our revenues in 2008,” said Pioneer’s president and CEO Bruce Shear. The sale “reflects our plan to focus on our faster growing core business.”

Under the agreement, a $3m is to be paid in cash to Pioneer by the outside closing target date of February 28, with additional payments of $1.75m contingent upon Pivotal achieving certain revenue targets.

The CRO has facilities in Michigan, Utah and Arizona and specialises in women’s health, cardiovascular, dermatology, gastrointestinal, respiratory, metabolic/endocrine, musculoskeletal and central nervous system disorders, as well as carrying out vaccine studies.

All told the company has completed over 600 clinical studies encompassing all phases in over 45 indications, and it claims particular expertise in early-stage, first-in-disease (FID) and first human dose (FHD) studies.

That makes it a much closer fit with Premier Research, an international CRO present across Europe and the US which provides a broad portfolio of clinical research services including clinical trial management, data and biostatistics services, regulatory affairs expertise and strategic product development, as well as running its own clinical trial centres.