Under the deal – financial terms of which were not announced - Icon will store, manage and analyse all medical images generated during Roche’s clinical trial programmes using its MIRA software system.
The Swiss drug major – which will implement the Mira platform under a software as a service (SaaS) agreement – chose the technology after testing it extensively over the last 12 months as Gudrun Zahlman, leader of imaging infrastructure, explained.
“We committed to Icon and Mira after a one year pilot program. The comprehensive functionality of MIRA, the US and EU redundancy of the data, and the responsive nature of the Icon staff, proved the best fit for Roche’s needs.”
Andrew Kraus Executive VP & CTO, ICON Medical told Outsourcing-pharma.com about the deal from the CRO’s perspective, explaining that the idea of the offering is to go beyond the simple transactional service provider relationship.
“If CROs can bring new and innovative solutions to market that improve the drug development process, then value creation rather than price becomes the driver in decision making. We brought to market the industry’s first hosted image repository and Roche quickly saw the value in our offering.”
Icon’s view on imaging
The Roche deal comes hot on the heels of a number of developments for Icon’s medical imaging business. In October last year the firm formed a partnership with radiology services firm vRad, gaining access to 400 registered radiologists at 2,700 facilities around the world.
Before that - also in October - the Ireland-based contract research organisation (CRO) teamed up with Oracle to create a cloud-based trial management system.
And – although the Oracle deal covers all aspects of clinical research rather than just imagining – the technologies and systems Icon and Oracle have developed are likely to be of use in the Roche accord.
Competition and differentiation
Image management is something of a focus – all puns intended – for the research services sector at the moment with Bioclinica and Parexel being only the most recent firm to invest in this area. This has increased competition, which is something that Icon recognizes according to Kraus.
“Imaging remains a competitive space as is the case with all CRO services. CROs that embrace change, improve processes and use innovation to deliver real operational and cost efficiencies to clients are better able to differentiate themselves in this competitive space.”
He went on to explain that the Pharma industry’s focus on developing targeted therapies – which necessitates the use of biomarkers earlier in the clinical lifecycle than drugs with a broader population base - had created the imaging services management market and would sustain it going forward.
“The complexity of the imaging, and the wealth of information contained in those images, presents sponsors with the need to maintain images as intellectual property. The ability to store images, mine them for additional indications, and to integrate image information with clinical data for predictive outcomes and biomarker research will be a driving factor in the future use of medical imaging in clinical trials."