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Mayo Clinic to close clinical trial unit

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Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:00 am

By Jeff Kiger

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Mayo Clinic is closing a 100-person operation — Mayo Clinical Trial Services — because of anticipated future losses and a business strategy change.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the clinical trials unit is no longer accepting new contracts, and 30 employees’ jobs will end immediately. Another 27 positions will be eliminated in 2009.

“The hope is that most of those folks will find new jobs either within the Department of Lab Medicine or elsewhere in Mayo Clinic," Mayo spokesman Adam Brase said. “We’re really committed to working with those folks to help them through the transition and identify opportunities and options for them"

Clinical Trials Services, which started in 1991, does scientific product testing under contract for drug companies, medical device makers and other biotechology firms.

Its Web site says it has conducted more than 1,000 clinical trial studies in all major therapeutic areas.

It offers more than 3,000 tests to be used by drug development companies.

The unit, based in the Mayo Collaborative Services building at 3050 Superior Drive N.W., will fulfill all current contracts that extend until 2010.

As the workload decreases, the staffing numbers could continue to rachet down.

“Ultimately, I don’t know what the final numbers will be, but that’s what we can forsee right now," Brase said.

Why close this biobusiness arm of Mayo?

“The marketplace it is in is very highly competitive — driven by a numbner of low cost, routine tests. That really doesn’t take advantage of our strenghts or our really specialized expertise in lab testing," he said.

And an analyis also “ … concluded that the clinical trials unit would see substantial financial losses into the foreseeable future," according to an internal Mayo Clinic memo announcing the closing.

“So the decision was made to sunset this service line and refocus those efforts on other areas within Mayo Collaborative Services which not only best match our skills, but also are doing very well," Brase said.

The clinical trials unit’s parent division — Mayo Collaborative Services Inc. — will still include Mayo Medical Laboratories and Mayo Validation Support Services.

Brase says both of those units are doing well and they serve more than 4,000 medical centers and more than 4 million patients a year.

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