Cognizant, the US-based provider of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing services, has signed a five-year agreement to help out AstraZeneca in the UK company’s drive towards greater efficiency in clinical data management.

Under the agreement, which Cognizant expects to bring in revenues of around US$95 million (€60.1 million) over the five-year period, the company will provide a broad range of centralised data management services for AstraZeneca’s global clinical development programmes, including data management planning, clinical study set-up for electronic data capture, medical coding, adverse event reconciliation, clinical data management and training for clinical sites and investigators.

AstraZeneca announced last year that it intended to centralise these services as part of a wider programme to improve efficiency in research and development. Cognizant said it would help the UK company achieve this goal through better process standardisation, consistency of delivery, economies of scale and cost savings that AstraZeneca could then “re-invest to support the fast, innovative and efficient development of their R&D programmes”.

“We are strongly committed to leveraging our deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry, our leadership in clinical management solutions and our global footprint to help AstraZeneca’s drive to innovate and continue to make a real difference in the way it delivers healthcare,” said Francisco D’Souza, president and chief executive officer of Cognizant.

The UK company has a longstanding relationship with Cognizant, which it engaged in 2004 to provide a range of business process and technology solutions spanning discovery, clinical, manufacturing and commercial operations across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

According to Cognizant, its Healthcare and Life Sciences practice works for six of the top 10 heath plans in the US, 27 of the top 30 global pharmaceutical companies, nine of the top 10 biotechnology companies and two of the top five medical device companies.

Merck deal
Last December Cognizant announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar agreement building on its existing relationship with Merck & Co to become a key technology partner for the US pharma giant and provide a full suite of services encompassing applications outsourcing, IT infrastructure management and business process outsourcing services.

A telling indication of the broader trend towards outsourcing of data management and other clinical development functions in the pharmaceutical industry was the global agreement signed last month between management consulting, outsourcing and technology services specialist Accenture and Japan's Eisai Medical Research.

Accenture will provide Eisai with clinical data management services through its delivery centre in Chennai, India. It was the first time a major Japanese pharmaceutical company had farmed out clinical data management services as a business process outsourcing function to India, the two companies noted.