US-based eClinical specialist Datatrak has taken some drastic measures to address its escalating financial losses, appointing a new board chairman and interim president as well as eliminating the position of chief operating officer (COO).

Last year Datatrak’s operating losses more than tripled to US$11.0 million on revenues that plunged 40.3% against 2006 to US$10.6 million. In the first quarter of 2008, revenues slid 41.0% to US$2.09 million and the operating loss was US$2.22 million compared with a US$1.84 million loss for the year-before quarter.

The company has already been shedding staff. In the fourth quarter of 2007, Datatrak took severance charges totalling $192,000 in association with the loss of 21 employees. There were 28 redundancies earlier in the year.

In the latest moves, which Datatrak said were “part of a broad and continuing initiative to make changes at the Company”, Laurence Birch has been named chairman of Datatrak’s board of directors. Currently president and chief executive officer (CEO) of research and drug development company Neopharm, and previously president and CEO of a home dialysis company, Askys, Birch has already served on the Datatrak board for the past year and is on the board’s audit committee.

Datatrak CEO Dr Jeffrey Green said he welcomed “the increased involvement of Larry Birch and the contributions he can make to our overall efforts to improve Datatrak’s operational excellence as well as enhancing our strategic development alternatives. He will support our efforts to further penetrate the global technology market for clinical trials”.

At the same time, Matt Delaney, currently vice president of marketing and sales, has been named interim president of Datatrak. “Matt Delaney came into a difficult situation and has helped us create some early positive momentum,” Green commented. “I look forward to Matt’s continued contribution as we expand his areas of responsibility with his new assignment.”

Terry Black, formerly Datatrak’s chief operating officer (COO), is leaving the company as the COO role no longer exists. Black “will be pursuing other opportunities and will no longer be employed by the Company on a full-time basis”, Datatrak stated. He has agreed to a transition period whereby he will serve as a consultant to Datatrak on an as-needed basis.

“We are clearly in the early stages of emerging from a difficult and challenging period at Datatrak, said new chairman Birch. “Over the past 12 months we have implemented a number of changes to our sales and marketing team and strategies, undertaken numerous cost savings measures and now restructured our senior management team in ways we believe will capitalise on individual team members’ strengths.”