The IVRS/IWRS business helps contract research organisations (CROs) and pharma industry sponsors remotely manage all aspects of trials including patient screening, enrollment, randomization and supply distribution.
Demand for this type of service has grown markedly in recent years as, increasingly, clinical trials are conducted at multiple locations around the world by disparate groups of researchers.
Covance has not said why it decided to sell although, in common with much of the CRO sector, it was recently forced to cut its 2009 earnings estimates and the sale is perhaps part of an effort to refocus on its core trials business.
Further support for this idea came from Covance CEO Joe Herring who said that the deal allows the company’s “management team to focus more attention and investments on growing our service offerings in the larger markets we serve."
Another possible motivation for the sale from Covance’s perspective is that it gains access to Phase Forward’s InForm electronic data capture (EDC) and Clarix interactive response technologies.
InForm has proved to be very popular of late with pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Novo Nordisk, Novartis and Eli Lilly establishing or extending their use of the platform.
The technology is also used by many of Covance’s CRO rivals including INC Research, Quintiles, Parexel and Charles River Laboratories (CRL) and has perhaps become a near industry standard that Covance could not afford to be without.
While competition in the eClinical space is hotting up, particularly with the launch of Microsoft’s Amalga, InForm’s use by regulatory agencies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK’s MHRA may help it stand out from the crowd.