Acurian, a US-based provider of patient recruitment and retention services for clinical trials, has launched Click It Forward, a new social networking application for raising awareness about trials and boosting the company’s direct-to-patient recruitment capabilities.

The application has been developed for the two most popular social networking platforms, Facebook and MySpace. As Scott Connor, Acurian’s vice president of marketing, explains, Facebook and MySpace together have nearly 200 million registered users “and we believe that Click it Forward plays well to these online audiences based on the application’s healthcare and altruistic characteristics”.

The altruism comes from donations that Acurian will make to more than 20 medical causes, based on the number of online friends users can persuade to sign up for the application.

Once users have registered and installed the free Click it Forward application on their Facebook or MySpace page, they can disseminate it exponentially by inviting their friends to install the application too, Acurian notes. Users gain points depending on how many of their online friends subsequently take up Click it Forward. The more points gained, the more money Acurian donates to the preferred medical causes selected by the user at registration.

“Web 2.0 is driving real business opportunities in hundreds of industries, including healthcare,” Connor comments. “We are leveraging the platform to help our customers gain access to new patients, and in turn giving back to causes that will benefit from new therapies brought about through clinical research.”

Acurian already maintains an active database of over 50 million individuals who have opted to receive new healthcare information, including clinical trial opportunities.