NFO Research, a Connecticut-based market research company, has agreed to acquire Migliara-Kaplan & Associates, an Owings Mills-based health care and pharmaceutical research firm.
The deal is valued at an estimated $15.2 million.
"We really like this company and what they do," said Patrick Healy, executive vice president and chief executive officer for NFO.
"The industry they serve we see as having very high growth potential in the U.S., and they are a great company. They have 16 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies as clients."
The acquisition is NFO's fourth since it went public in 1993. Its clients come from a diverse group of industries, including telecommunications, financial services and packaged goods. Its biggest client is household goods giant Proctor & Gamble.
Migliara-Kaplan, also known as MK, counts among its clients pharmaceutical giants Merck & Co. and Park-Davis, and bio-tech concerns Amgen and Genetic Therapy, based in Rockville.
The company has focused on conducting research among such clients for its biggest customers -- physicians.
Mr. Migliara said, though, that increasingly his clients are interested in market data from "a triad -- the primary physician, the insurer and the patient."
Mr. Healy and Mr. Migliara said they believe that the merger came at an opportune time for both companies because of this shift in the pharmaceutical industry.
"The entire health industry is becoming much more competitive," said Mr. Healy. "Companies in the health care field are becoming much more sophisticated marketers. Their focus is increasingly becoming customer driven, rather than strictly physician driven."
NFO hopes to capitalize on that shift through its merger, slated to close Jan. 3, 1996, with MK by touting the huge pool of people it has on hand for its marketing surveys.
NFO, based in Greenwich, Conn., has 475,000 pre-recruited households, or about 1.2 million people, it can survey about impressions of new and existing products and services.
That pool of people, or "panel," includes a group that suffers from chronic illnesses, such as hay fever, angina and asthma.
"MK has the access to the pharmacy companies, and we have this huge panel we can survey," said Mr. Healy.
Joseph Migliara, president of Migliara-Kaplan, said the merger would not result in any staff cutbacks at his 15-year-old firm, which employs 90 people.
"This is not a consolidation for efficiency," said Mr. Migliara.
"It's a way to build through acquisition," he added.