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ICON Acquires PRA Health Sciences in Blockbuster Deal

ICON Acquires PRA Health Sciences in Blockbuster Deal

With CRO mergers picking up again recently, ICON has started off the year by announcing its acquisition of PRA Health Sciences in a $12 billion megadeal.

ICON plc (NASDAQ: ICLR) announced that it has sealed the deal in the acquisition of PRA Health Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: PRAH) for $12 billion.

The acquisition will see ICON plc, global provider of development and commercialization services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, expand its portfolio to leverage PRA’s mobile and connected health platforms, along with its data and information solutions.

The two industry service providers entered a definitive agreement last week in a cash and stock transaction.

The per share merger consideration involves $80 in cash and 0.4125 shares of ICON stock. Once the transaction is complete, PRA shareholders will own roughly 34 percent of the shares of the combined company while ICON shareholders will own 66 percent.

The companies believe that the amalgamation of the two organizations will benefit clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries by offering greater depth in expertise and resources.

ICON says, “the transaction brings together two high-quality, innovative and growing organizations with similar cultures and a shared focus on high quality and efficient clinical trial execution from Phase I to post-approval studies.”


Related: Syneos Health Successfully Closes Out Acquisition of Synteract


Dublin-based ICON will take control of Raleigh, North Carolina-based PRA, headquartering the new joint company in Dublin.

With locations in 40 countries worldwide, ICON offers a full range of consulting, clinical development and commercialization services. In addition to servicing the pharma, biotech and medical device industries, the company also offers government and public health organizations enhanced operational solutions that increase value.

PRA Health Sciences has been focused on integrated drug development solutions in early preclinical and clinical phases, as well as biometrics, embedded and real-world solutions.

Accelerating Development

The merger brings together the two power CROs with proven track records of strong growth and performance in early and late phase drug and medical device development, alongside product commercialization. The companies aim to jointly further their successes by utilizing and building on their strengths and experiences to deliver enhanced value to patients, customers, employees and shareholders.

ICON says customers will be offered advantages in increased functional, geographic and therapeutic scale expansive innovations in healthcare technologies.

In a press release announcing the acquisition, Steve Cutler, chief executive officer, ICON plc, said, “The combined company will create a new paradigm for accelerating clinical research and bringing new medicines and devices to market.

“Both ICON and PRA have track records of robust growth and performance and we are ready to build on this unrivalled position of strength, utilizing the outstanding talent in both organizations. With broader and deeper operational scale combined with innovative technology and real-world data solutions, we will enable all customers to reduce their development time and cost.”

Colin Shannon, chairman and chief executive officer, PRA Health Sciences, said, “I joined PRA 13 years ago to help build a company that would make a difference in the world and transform the way we developed new medicines. Critically ill patients can’t wait for cures. Underserved populations can’t wait for access. The union of PRA and ICON will create an organization that has the people, data and technology to bring those cures to patients faster and more efficiently than ever before…We are thrilled to be joining with ICON, a company with a similar culture and values.”

Siteless Operations

As the companies join together, one of ICON’s main aims will be to address the growing market need for decentralized and hybrid trial solutions. These solutions necessitate enhanced mobile and connected health platforms, a global site network, home health services and health wearables — areas that PRA Health has significant expertise in.

Both companies have been focused on siteless trials and wearable health tech, with awareness of the need and demand having grown in recent years, and especially during the pandemic.

Dr. Cutler said, “We will be the leading provider of de-centralized and hybrid trial solutions through the integration of our data capabilities, health platforms and Accellacare site network. The transaction will be highly accretive from full year 1 post-close.”

Shannon commented that, “The pandemic accelerated the adoption of mobile health technologies and healthcare intelligence tools — tools that PRA helped develop — at an unprecedented rate.”

Through the new deal, ICON will accelerate its virtual trial path. The siteless, virtual model is becoming increasingly favored by CROs. Last year, LabCorp’s Covance announced that it is on track to becoming a siteless CRO in upcoming years.

ICON previously acquired MAPI in 2017, having made it the second-largest provider of late-stage clinical development services after IQVIA at the time. Since then, Labcorp’s Covance has taken the number one slot.

CRO mergers appear to be picking up steam again since 2017. Late last year, Syneos Health closed out a deal to acquire Synteract for $400 million.

ICON is confident that bringing PRA into its fold will help accelerate treatments to patients. Through broader offerings including deeper therapeutic expertise, a wider geographic net and connected, virtual health technologies, the CRO is positioned to deliver diverse and innovative end-to-end clinical solutions that meet the needs of customers and patients.