Clinical technology company ClinPhone has bolstered its position in the electronic data capture (EDC) sector via the acquisition of DataLabs for up to $69 million.

The announcement came as the company posted its first profit since floating on the London Stock Exchange in June. Pretax profit came in at £1.8 million for the first half of 2006, compared to a loss of £90,000 in the same period of 2005.

Revenues were up a third to £21 million, with contracted orders up 18% to £37 million, said ClinPhone, which said that the demand for clinical trial services is outstripping supply at the moment. It also noted that the average order value climbed 24% to £176,000.

The UK company specialises in technologies used to randomise patients into clinical trials, manage clinical trial material (CTM) supplies and keep track of patient records, and will now be able to add DataLabs EDC capabilities, which focus on collecting and processing the data generated in clinical trials.

The incorporation of DataLabs will make it easier for ClinPhone to develop turnkey offerings that can be sold as a bundle to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. At the moment, it tends to develop bespoke systems for its clients.

The deal “enables ClinPhone to become the first company in the biopharmaceutical sector to offer a comprehensive suite of clinical trial management and data capture systems. We are first to market with this integrated technology offering” that allows data to be captured from both patients and doctors, said ClinPhone chief executive Steve Kent.

Increasingly, customers are seeking to meet their needs for this type of technology from a single source, he added.

As partners, Clinphone and DataLabs have been working for months on integrating their respective product suites, they said.

The EDC sector has been growing steadily, but hardly spectacularly, and was estimated to be worth around $150 million in 2004. But while CenterWatch estimates that just 10%-15% of trials make use of the technology at the moment, new technologies that enable paper and electornic data capture to be run side-by-side, such as a Java-based web architecture known as AJAX, and the emergence of Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) as a standard database format is encouraging its wider adoption.

With 80% of the market still relying on paper-based technologies, ClinPhone expects that there will be a huge opportunity for its portfolio, which include both telephone-based and web-based technologies.

The combined organisation now has more than 700 full time staff across North America, Europe and Australasia, it said.