Quintiles, the world’s largest provider of services such as clinical trials to life science companies, is now a preferred provider for a global health consortium funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Triangle-based company is one of only a handful of so-called contract research organizations that were screened and selected by the global Product Development Partnerships group, according to company spokesperson Phil Bridges.

Specific financial details were not disclosed, but Quintiles will offer its services such as performance of drug trials at a discount, Bridges said. Quintiles also could be kept quite busy by the group.

“There is a potential for quite a bit of business,” Bridges said. “We also will be able to have an impact on areas that are the focus of the group.”

Quintiles already has “work underway with some of [partnerships],” he added.

The Product Development Partnerships, a consortium of 14 groups targeting neglected diseases and also improved medicines for the world’s poor. All are not-for-profits.

One of the consortium members is the Medicines for Malaria Venture.

These groups could launch as many as 128 clinical trials over the next two years. Some of the funding for the trials will come from the Gates Foundation that is pouring billions of dollars into Third World health efforts.

“The work they’re doing has the potential to reshape global health within a generation,” said Dr. Kelly McKee, vice president and managing director for Public Health and Government Services at Quintiles. “The public health issues on which they are focused has the potential to save millions of lives. We are very excited to be named a preferred provider to the consortium and look forward to helping advance this critical mission.”

Quintiles says it will work with consortium members with an emphasis on infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

The company employs some 20,000 people across 60 countries.

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