eResearch Technology (ERT), the US-based supplier of centralised cardiac safety, respiratory efficacy, electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePRO), eClinical and other services for clinical trials, has announced the appointment of Dr Jeffrey Litwin as president and chief executive officer (CEO).

Litwin’s promotion from executive vice president and chief medical officer at ERT brings to a close the search for a successor to Michael McKelvey that started last September, when the former ERT president and CEO signalled his pending retirement.

McKelvey eventually went on 21 December 2010 and Dr Joel Morganroth, previously ERT’s chairman and chief scientific officer, has been filling in since then. Morganroth now continues in the latter position while ERT has named Elam Hitchner, the lead independent director of the company’s board since April 2010, as its new chairman.

“Our Board believed that, with the appointment of Dr Litwin as our president and chief executive officer, this was an opportunity to enhance our corporate governance by appointing a non-executive chairman,” ERT commented.  

According to Morganroth, Litwin brings to his new position “knowledge of the clinical research domain, that is our core business, and also experience in the adjacent markets of Phase IV safety surveillance and healthcare in which ERT’s assets will be employed”.

Litwin joined ERT in 2000 as senior vice president and chief medical officer, and was promoted to executive vice president and chief medical officer in December 2005. For the last four years, he has been responsible for leading ERT’s consulting business, helping more than 150 companies with the design and evaluation of cardiac safety testing programmes.  

Q1 results

ERT also announced that operating income for the first quarter of 2011 grew by 94.9% year on year to US$5.35 million.

Net revenues were up by 90.7% to US$41.7 million, partly boosted by the acquisition of CareFusion Research Services, a provider of respiratory diagnostic, cardiac safety and ePRO services, as well as a manufacturer of diagnostic devices, in late May 2010.

New bookings for the quarter ended 31 March 2011 came to US$71.8 million compared with US$58.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 and US$43.3 million one year previously. The gross book-to-bill ratio was 1.7 against 1.3 in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 2.0 in Q1 2010.

According to Morganroth, the record bookings for the quarter were driven by strong uptake of the company’s integrated solution combining respiratory, cardiac safety and ePRO services. 

Revenues were slightly lower than expected due to a large TQT (Thorough QT cardiac safety study) cancellation during the quarter, as well as the termination of three large respiratory studies by sponsors. 

Strong start

“We managed to moderate our expenses as some of the 2011 planned hiring and other investments were delayed,” Morganroth added, although negative currency translation shaved around US$0.01 per share off earnings.

“Overall, we believe we are off to a strong start for 2011,” Morganroth commented. ERT is sticking with its previously issued guidance for net revenues of between US$178 million and US$188 million in 2011. 

Diluted net income per share, on a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis, is expected to be between US$0.30 and US$0.40 for the full year.