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Phase Forward buys Covance unit for $10m

Published on 21/07/09 at 08:05am

US clinical data management specialist Phase Forward is planning to get bigger in interactive response technologies (IRT) via a $10 million deal to buy Covance's activities in this area.

The deal boosts Phase Forward's IRT business with additional web and telephone-based interactive response (IVRS/IWRS) systems, something chief executive Bob Weiler said recently could have a "dramatic" effect on revenues.

This type of technology is used to randomise patients into trials, manage inventory of medications so that drugs are available to subjects as required, and oversee reporting in clinical trials to allow sponsors to fine-tune recruitment.

The reasons for the revenue boost are quite simple. A typical large-scale multicentre study represents a contract worth around $400,000 with its electronic data capture (EDC) platform InForm alone, but could swell by another $100,000 to $200,000 with an IVRS/IWRS module added in.

"Covance has been a pioneering leader in the IVRS/ IWRS market and we look forward to building upon their success," said Weiler in a statement.

The global IRT market is growing at around 15% per annum and is worth around $250m at the moment, with the dominant player - ClinPhone - claiming around a 35% market share ahead of its acquisition by Parexel International a year ago. Parexel itself had around 9% of the market before the purchase.

Historically an EDC specialist, Phase Forward has been progressively adding related technologies such as IRT in order to expand its portfolio, and the Covance deal is not its first foray into the IVRS/IWRS sector. Last September, the company added its first IVRS/IWRS platform, Clarix, in a $40 million acquisition deal.

The latest deal with Covance, which is due to complete by the end of August, will also see the CRO offer Phase Forward's widely-used EDC platform InForm and the Clarix IRT system to its clients for the next five years.

Covance said it also intends to collaborate with Phase Forward on further developments of EDC and related technologies, such as bedside data capture, electronic diaries and other approaches that could "improve the efficiency of the drug development process".

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