OREANDA-NEWS. ITOCHU Corporation announced that it plans to acquire the clinical research business from ASKLEP, Inc., which provides clinical research support and post-marketing surveillance services to pharmaceutical firms and medical devices manufacturers, to strengthen clinical research services for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. With effect June 2, ASKLEP will transfer the target business to its new wholly owned subsidiary (hereinafter the "successor company") and, on the same day, ITOCHU will acquire all the issued shares of the successor company.

ITOCHU has been expanding its healthcare business to meet the growing and diverse medical needs of Japan, with its low birth rate and aging society, and of economically developing Asian countries. ACRONET Corporation is a member of the ITOCHU Group which, as a CRO like ASKLEP, provides services for the clinical research of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have been concentrating their management resources to strengthen new drug research & development, and demand for clinical research services among pharmaceutical companies is expected to increase further in the future. In the meantime, CROs are required to respond to researches such as the trend towards large projects and the increase in multinational clinical trials, and the establishment of a robust system in the CRO business is essential to respond to such changes. This being the case, ITOCHU decided to acquire the target business from ASKLEP.

After acquiring the target business, ITOCHU plans to merge it with ACRONET in the near future, and the merged company will then contribute to the development of more pharmaceuticals and medical devices as one of Japan's large CROs. The merged company will be able to meet diverse needs for clinical research services as a full-size CRO, with a total of 900 employees, including more than 500 staff members engaged in monitoring clinical researches, which are currently highly needed.

ITOCHU has expanded its business portfolio in the healthcare field generally, entering other areas besides services for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries, including the import and development of medical devices, services for hospitals, and disease prevention. ITOCHU will continue to expand its healthcare business in the future, to fulfil its mission of being "Committed to the Global Good" by contributing to improvement in people's QOL.