The multiple Phase I and II contracts relate to the development of ain investigatory agent to treat multiple types of influenza, including Avian Flu, said the firm. Specific services will include consulting on clinical trial design and protocol development, project and study site management, field operations, data management, and biostatistical support. The new contracts bring the net value of new contracts signed by Covalent for the year so far to $22.8m - already a 20 per cent increase on the total value of contracts for the whole year of 2005, which reached of $19.1m. The company said it now expects the current quarter to be its second consecutive quarter of profitable operations. Covalent experienced a decline in the level of its clinical trials business at the start of 2006 and this, in addition to start-up delays from several new contracts awarded late in 2005, was cited as a contributing factor in disappointing financial results reported by the firm in its first quarter this year - with net revenues only $2m compared to $3.2m for the comparable 2005 quarter. At the time the contract research organisation (CRO) said it was pinning its hopes on a better second quarter performance and "a return to profitability", which it is now poised to receive, thanks to its succession of new business wins - in August the firm added its tenth new client for the year - eight of which began with consulting contracts, which were later expanded to include contracts for clinical services. Covalent said the latest contract wins were the result of ongoing business development and clinical operations efforts on the part of itself and Remedium Oy, a privately owned, CRO based in Espoo, Finland that it will acquire in november. "We believe that these contract wins represent a strong proof-of-concept that the combination of Covalent and Remedium, resulting in the newly created company Encorium Group, will be a highly competitive force in the drug development and CRO marketplaces," said Kenneth Borow, CEO and president for Covalent Group. "Our belief is supported by the fact that patient recruitment for the Phase II studies included in the current contracts is expected to occur in North America, Scandinavia, the Baltics, and Western, Central and Eastern Europe, where the newly-formed Encorium will have operational capabilities."