clinicaltrials.jpgCharles River Laboratories, the US- listed pharmaceutical outsourcing firm, plans to expand its presence in China to cope with the demand from the growing number of pharma multinationals operating in China.

The company, which offers services ranging from drug research to preclinical and clinical trials, opened a 60,000 sq ft facility in Shanghai in October.

James Foster, chairman and CEO, told financial analysts that the company was pleased with the first facility and was now looking for a second location. Because so many of Charles River's customers are now present in China, they are looking for local facilities to provide preclinical services, he said.

China has become an important market for pharma multinationals and a growing centre for global drug development that allows multinationals to tap into a pool of relatively low-cost scientific talent.

Fosters predicted significant growth in China, particularly over the next three to five years. The bright prospects in China contrast with the disappointing performance in the company's mainstream markets. Charles River is currently suffering from a worldwide slowdown in business as pharma companies delay clinical test programmes. Announcing its Q1 results, the company reported a 17% slump of sales of preclinical services and a more modest 4% drop in research service.s

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