Researcher in a lab

Faster drug development a shot in the arm for health and the SA economy

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most highly regulated. New drugs require clinical trials and complex legal processes, often over several years. This costs significant time and money, increases the price of medicines, and delays the availability of potentially life-saving therapies.

To progress to human clinical trials more rapidly and cost-effectively, the industry turns to contract research organisations (CROs). But, until ten years ago, there were none in Australia that could handle all the services sought by small- to medium-sized biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, meaning they had to be sourced overseas.

CPR Pharma Services, a UniSA spin-off company, is helping to save lives in Australia and overseas by speeding up the process of bringing disease-fighting drugs to market.

Recognising this need, UniSA launched a company called CPR Pharma Services in 2009. As Australia’s only clinical trials and bioanalytical facility successfully inspected by the US Food and Drugs Administration, it’s now a leader in its field across the Asia-Pacific region, commanding 30 per cent of Australia’s clinical trial market.

CPR Pharma averages just six weeks to undertake early phase clinical trials, from approval of ethics to the start of a study: about half the time of competitors. But it’s also been a boon for the South Australian economy, attracting investment, creating jobs and helping to make its location in Bio Innovation SA’s Incubator at the Thebarton Technology Precinct one of the largest commercial technology clusters of its kind in Australia.

Recently CPR Pharma was pivotal in helping Sigma-Tau bring its anti-malarial treatment, Eurartesimä, to market, and Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals noted its ‘immense contribution’ to the European Medicines Agency’s approval of SCENESSE, which treats a rare skin disease.

From its original staff of 32, CPR Pharma has more than doubled to over 80 in its first decade and become a major contributor to the bio-innovation sector in South Australia, helping it achieve a remarkable 10:1 return on investment for public funds.