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PPD, Inc. (NSDQ: PPDI) has opened a vaccine clinical research center in China Medical City located in Taizhou. PPD will use to center to provide clinical monitoring services for multinational and local companies that are seeking approval for new vaccines in China.

PPD said vaccine studies in China are conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This procedure replaces the usual Phase I clinics or hospital-based tests for non-vaccine drugs. The other major difference with vaccines is that trials enroll thousands of patients in China, while other countries require a comparatively small population numbering in the hundreds.

The new facility adds to PPD’s presence in China. In November of last year, PPD bought two China-based CROs, Excel PharmaStudies and BioDuro LLC, giving the company a considerable China footprint in a very short space of time. PPD paid $78 million to acquire BioDuro. In January 2008, PPD teamed up with Peking Union Lawke Biomedical Development to open a global central lab services unit in Beijing.

PPD said it opened its first office in China in 2003. It claims to be the largest CRO in China, with nearly 1,100 employees, though WuXi PharmaTech (NYSE: WX) has more. Yesterday’s announcement that Charles River (NYSE: CRL) would buy WuXi for $1.6 billion mean that the combined China operations of Charles River and WuXi will have bragging rights for being the CRO in China with the largest number of employees.

"The vaccines market is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry, and in China the clinical trial market is growing at about 20% each year," said Simon Britton, PPD's vice president of clinical development for Asia Pacific. "Our strong expertise in vaccine clinical research and large presence in China make us well positioned to help our clients ensure adherence to global standards while addressing unique requirements for monitoring vaccine studies."

Disclosure: none.

Source: PPD Adds to Its Presence in China