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Kendle International realigns executives to drive innovation, productivity, efficiency

Kendle International Inc. on Tuesday announced an executive realignment as the latest in a series of efforts to better position the company as a top-tier, global contract research organization. Kendle has appointed its co-founder and chief operating officer, Christopher C. Bergen, to the new position of chief administrative officer as one of the changes to drive innovation and efficiency at the company.

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Kendle International Inc. on Tuesday announced an executive realignment as the latest in a series of efforts to better position the company as a top-tier, global contract research organization.

The company that provides clinical development services to the world’s biopharmaceutical industry is in the midst of a campaign to drive down overhead costs and deliver increased innovation, productivity and organizational efficiency at a time when information technology leaps ahead and the world economy contracts.

Kendle has appointed its co-founder and chief operating officer, Christopher C. Bergen, to the new position of chief administrative officer. Bergen, who also will hold the position of executive vice president, has more than 30 years’ experience in the clinical research industry. He also helped start Kendle in 1981, serving as the company’s president and chief operating officer until 2008, when he gave up the president’s position.

Bergen led Kendle’s recent enterprise resource planning (ERP) initiative, which is winding to a close. It was the largest initiative in the company’s history and is expected to yield benefits such as streamlined global processes, enhanced organizational efficiency and real-time access to clinical trial data to help with efficient project management for the company and its customers.

“As we move forward and position Kendle to compete for higher-level strategic outsourcing opportunities, our infrastructure and ability to deliver on a global scale have never been more important,” said Candace Kendle, the company’s chairwoman and chief executive officer, said in a written statement. “This new executive leadership role, and the appointment of our most senior leader to fill it, demonstrates Kendle’s continued focus on the key business drivers that will support our future growth and meet the strategic outsourcing needs of our customers.”

More executive changes were announced Tuesday:

  • Twenty-year industry veteran Stephen Cutler has been appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer to replace Bergen. Most recently senior vice president of global project management for Quintiles Transnational Corp., Cutler will lead Kendle’s research work for companies in the later stages of developing drugs or therapies. Quintiles is a biopharmaceutical contract research and services organization, and consultancy in Research Triangle, N.C.
  • Simon Higginbotham has added the chief marketing officer role to his leadership of Kendle’s work for companies in the early stages of developing biopharmaceutical products. Higgenbotham also assumes the title of senior vice president.

In recent months as part of the executive realignment, Kendle appointed Jarrod Pontius as vice president, chief legal officer and secretary; and Keith Cheesman as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Cheesman succeeded Karl “Buzz” Brenkert III, the senior vice president, CFO and secretary who left Kendle in May

During the second quarter, Kendle also made a series of changes to reduce its variable costs. The changes include strict controls over discretionary spending, hiring and wage freezes, and workforce and capacity optimization efforts to better balance staffing levels with customer demand. The company expects to take a one-time charge in the range of $3.5 million to $4.5 million in the second quarter for severance and other expenses related to the changes. Kendle expects to save between $17.5 million and $22.5 million in the second half of 2009, as a result.

Also during the second quarter, Kendle added locations in the capital cities of Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand— betting with the rest of the industry that more medical trials will take place outside of the United States and in Asia. Kendle said at the time its new operations in Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Bangkok would expand its competitive edge in the region.

A majority of all clinical trials are done overseas, according to a study published in February in the New England Journal of Medicine. Kendle cited Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development research stating up to 65 percent of FDA-regulated clinical trials will, in the next three years, be conducted outside the United States with many moving to Asia.

Contract research organizations like Kendle have benefited in recent years from a growing trend by big drug companies to farm out their research, development and manufacturing work, Tony Dennis, president and chief executive of BioOhio, said early this year as he summed up growth of the bioscience industry in the state.