etrials adds competitor Unithink to confidentiality case

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Clinical trial

US software specialist etrials Worldwide has added Belgian rival Unithink to an ongoing lawsuit that accuses two former executives, Robert Sammis and Brendon Ball, of breaching confidentiality agreements.

Sammis and Ball, who served as chief operating officer and director of product development at etrials before joining Unithink late last year, are accused of copying confidential data on pricing and contracts from work computers to personal devices, according to a Triangle Business Journal ​report.

etrials further alleges that this information and other confidential data were used by Unithink when setting up its US operations in October last year.

Denis Connaghan, etrials' CEO told Trading Markets​ that: "While etrials believes in and welcomes competition, the company will not allow former employees and/or their new employer to engage in actions which amount to unfair competition under the law​."

Both Sammis and Ball deny the charges that they appropriated confidential information and, in affidavits filed with the Wake County Superior Court, North Carolina, claim they are forbidden from using any such information under the terms of their respective contracts with Unithink.

Sammis and Bell went on to say that the decision to leave was based on demotions they received in 2007 with Sammis describing etrials as a “company in crisis​” in his filing.


While etrials is yet to file its 2008 financial results, for the nine month period ended September 30 the firm’s operating loss stood at $10.5m (€8.2m), more than double its deficit for the year earlier period.

This coupled with the July resignation of CEO Eugene Jennings and delayed contracts related to the economic turmoil sweeping the pharmaceutical industry, may suggest that Sammis’ “crisis​” opinion has some validity.

Understandably, etrials has taken a more positive view of its current financial position. In a press release issued late last week, the firm reported that it signed clinical trial contracts worth some $5.5m in the fourth-quarter, helping it reach a company record total of $24.8m for the full year.

Company CEO M Denis Connaghan said that: “Even though we are still in the midst of transforming the company, we sustained a healthy growth in new project bookings and enlarged our backlog of signed and confirmed project and work orders​.” etrials will report its full year financial on March 5.

etrials provides eClinical software services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, with a focus on adaptive electronic data capture (EDC) solutions for use during clinical trials.

A report by Health Industry Insights revealed that by the end of 2007, nearly 45 per cent of all new Phase I-III studies were using EDC technology and that the market for such technology, currently worth some $600m, will be worth $1.8bn by 2010

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