Irish contract research organisation ICON has set up a dedicated business group for observational research and analysis services within its Clinical Research division.

The new Lifecycle Sciences Group, which will cover all phases of the product lifecycle from development through to commercialisation, incorporates Ovation Research Group, the US patient registries, outcomes research and health economics firm acquired by ICON in July 2006.

Like ICON, Ovation has a client base spanning the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. Its acquisition last year reflected the growing importance of late-phase services –in particular cost-effective long-term safety studies – to ICON’s overall business, some 60% of which is clinical trial management, monitoring and pharmacovigilance and 13% of which is data management and statistical consulting.

Patient registries and health economics

Patient registries and other observational studies provide an increasingly valuable complement to controlled clinical trials, as an insight into actual medical practice and ‘real-world’ product safety and effectiveness, a source of the post-approval utilisation and outcomes data sought ever more routinely by regulatory agencies or healthcare gatekeepers and payers, and as a means to raise product awareness among health practitioners.

In addition to patient registries, ICON’s Lifecycle Sciences Group offers health economics services that help to establish product value through means such as prospective research, retrospective database analysis or dossier development; outcomes research services, exploring the different ways in which a treatment or intervention can affect the use of medical resources as well as patient health status and quality of life; and statistical analysis services, taking in observational or pharmacoeconomic data as well as patient-reported outcomes.

According to John Hubbard, global president of ICON Clinical Research, the Lifecycle Sciences Group is the “latest step” in the integration of Ovation into the Clinical Research Division. “Over the past year we have benefited significantly from the addition of these services to our divisional portfolio in terms of our ability to provide specialised services to existing clients and to win new business,” he added. Jeff Trotter, founder of Ovation, now becomes senior vice-president, ICON Lifecycle Sciences Group.

The Irish company, which has reported a compound annual growth rate (in dollars) of 30% in net revenues and 25% in earnings per share over the last seven years, is pursuing a core strategy of organic growth supplemented by acquisitions to add new services or scale. It has targeted revenues of $1 billion by 2010, with acquisitions contributing $150 million of that total.