Investors buy Wayne drug-trial firm

Bracket, a Wayne-based clinical drug-testing complaince firm that employs 303 in Wayne and Langhorne and another 300 in St. Louis, San Francisco, the U.K. and Japan, has been sold by Express Scripts Holding Co. to Parthenon Capital Partners, a "growth-oriented" buyout firm based in Boston and San Francisco.

"The decision is consistent with the course we set last year to invest in core adjacent businesses to Express Script and divest other components, like Bracket," Express Scripts spokesman Brian Henry told me, confirming the deal. Neither company would say what Parthenon paid. In a statement, Bracket said its staff has worked on 1,100 drug trials, "with a particular emphasis on the central nervous system."

Bracket president Catherine Spear said the sale to Parthenon will strengthen Bracket, improving its status compared to what it was as a small unit of a big corporation, Express Scripts, which inherited Bracket through a pair of mergers. Spear expects Parthenon's backing will make Bracket an "independent" firm with the "autonomy, flexiblity and resources to pursue our growth strategy" while serving existing clients.

Parthenon also said it has added drug-develoment investor Ian Lennox, formerly of Drug Royalty and Celerion, as Executive Chairman of the Bracket board, overseeing Spear and her managers. Parthenon bought Bracket after studying its rivals and deciding the firm has "a unique and highly compelling set of solutions to the industry," added Parthenon managing partner David Ament. 

Bracket was previously owned by United BioSource Corp., which was purchased by Medco Health Solutions in 2010; Medco was bought by Express Scripts in 2012.