Nationwide Clinical Investigational Site Consolidation Continues with CNS-Focused Consolidation Funded by Bison Capital Partners

In yet another private equity-backed consolidation move in the clinical research site market, private equity made a power move again, this time underwriting a new central nervous system (CNS)-focused site organization roll-up called Apex Innovative Sciences (Apex). Formed by leveraging capital from Bison Capital Partners—the Private equity group merged two clinical research sites operations, including CNS Network (CNS) and Hassman Research Institute (HRI). The new entity represents a bi-coastal powerhouse in the clinical research site space. From the private equity-backed playbook, immediately after the formation, Apex acquired the Clinical Trials Center Alliance (the Alliance) a leading site network and coordinator of clinical trial site studies for sponsors and clinical research organizations.

What is the new clinical research site Apex focused on?
Central nervous system clinical research from mental health to neurological disorders. However the sites also can accommodate many other therapeutic area studies.

How experienced are they?

They have been conducting Phase I-IV CNS studies for decades across a variety of therapeutic areas including CNS specialties (neurology, psychiatry, addiction) to pain management and general medicine. They collectively have decades of clinical trials experience.

Who leads Apex?

Industry veterans Dr. David WallingDr. Howard Hassman and Dr. Larry Ereshefsky. Jack Stephens will direct the behavioral health treatment facility division. Dr. Hassman will lead the entire operation as CEO. Bobbie Theodore will head the acquired Alliance asset.

Apex Innovative Sciences: The Site Rollup and its Assets

Hassman Research Institute (HRI) has two campuses in New Jersey. They are well known and include fourteen private practices led by physicians that serve as sub-investigators. Specialties include psychiatry, addictions, abuse liability, neurology, cardiology and many other areas. They have a database of over 70,000 subjects developed over the years. They conduct full Phase I-IV research trials with a focus on special populations including the elderly, addiction and CNS-related studies. They also focus on pain models for new compound development and pain management.

HRI is led Dr. Howard Hassman and Dr. Larry Ereshefsky. They tout their scientific leadership and track record in managing complex single and multiple ascending trials, including the use of translationally meaningful pharmacodynamics (PD) biomarkers to des-risk proof of concept studies. In Phase I, they have experience conducting combination trials enabling physicians to identify potential risks and threats to compound viability not to mention the ability to help implement strategies to overcome these challenges.

CNS Network is based on the west coast (Southern California) and was founded in 2000. It has grown to become one of the largest clinical research providers in the nation and the second largest in Southern California. CNS operates three outpatient clinics located in Southern California (Garden Grove, Long Beach and Torrance). Moreover their Long Beach facility offers a dedicated Phase I Unit and a JCAHO-accredited Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) centrally located in the Greater Los Angeles area. Back in 2010 they acquired Pacific Research Partners based in Northern California. They focus on partnering with major biopharma sponsors to conduct clinical trials for new medications and treatments in various therapeutic areas including neurology, psychiatry and general health conditions. David P. Walling, PhD is the CEO.

The Clinical Trials Alliance was founded in 2000 and represents a unique group of independently owned and operated clinical research sites and service providers around the nation. Alliance members exchange best practices and expertise in various therapeutic areas not to mention a shared business development and sponsor relations team.

The Clinical Trials Alliance includes the following sites:

What are the Synergies from this merger?

The combination enables CNS and HRI to coordinate best practices in research and clinical quality, compliance and participant coordination, while benefiting from bi-coastal operations with expanded access to and coordination of highest quality enrollment.

Who is Bison Capital Partners V, LP (Bison Capital)?

The financier behind their three-way merger, they are an equity owner of the new Apex. They are a Los Angeles- and New York-based middle market private equity firm focused on growth equity investments in outstanding, entrepreneurial-led organizations.   The partner involved with this clinical research site deal is partner Lou Caballero. Their portfolio includes a handful of health-related assets.

Who was the Financial Advisor to the Research Site Side of the Transaction?

FocalPoint Partners served as advisor to CNS, HRI and the Alliance in the transaction. James Castro was the key principal.

Research Site Consolidation

TrialSite News tracks clinical research from a site and investigator perspective—with an emphasis on transparency and accessibility for all those interested. We are tracking research site consolidation carefully. There are a number of private equity groups pumping large amounts of capital into the clinical research site space in an attempt to rationalize what is a fragmented, often physician-owned “mom and pop” type of market. We expect further private equity-led M&A and will keep the audience updated.

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