Irish contract research organisation ICON is expanding its range of electronic data capture services through a technology partnership with US integrated data-management specialist Phase Forward.

With an initial term of three years, the preferred provider relationship gives ICON and its clients access to Phase Forward’s InForm Integrated Trial Management system, which has already been used in more than 1,300 clinical trials worldwide. The InForm EDC software offers advanced reporting and analysis tools, enabling trial sponsors to view and act on data earlier in the clinical development cycle and to manage study procedures and expenditure more effectively.

Writing last year in European Pharmaceutical Review, Tom O’Leary, vice-president, data management EU & RoW for ICON Clinical Research, said the transition to EDC was the “single biggest” technological advance the clinical trials sector had seen to date. He identified Phase Forward’s InForm package and US company Medidata Solutions’ Rave technology as the two leading EDC applications that were beginning to dominate the marketplace.

ICON already has a preferred provider relationship with Medidata for the RAVE platform. By partnering with Phase Forward, the Irish company can give its clients the kind of choice they expect with supporting technologies for paper-based projects. ICON’s client base is “such that we have to able to offer multiple EDC platforms”, it commented.

Currently some 10-15% of clinical trials are estimated to be using EDC technology, which O’Leary believes has “the greatest single potential to reduce the cost of clinical drug development”.

According to ICON, EDC use has reached a “tipping point” and its now being adopted as a mainstream approach to clinical trial management. Among the drivers for this trend, it said, were the increased maturity of EDC solutions, better acceptance of the technology by investigator sites, and sponsors’ efforts to achieve greater efficiency in the development process. By Peter Mansell