hase Forward, the US-based supplier of data management solutions for clinical trials and drug safety, has agreed to purchase the Interactive Voice & Web Response Services (IVRS/IWRS) business of contract research organisation (CRO) Covance for US$10 million in cash.

The deal also involves consolidating the two companies’ long-term strategic relationship. Part of the transaction is a marketing agreement to supply Phase Forward’s electronic data capture (EDC) solutions and IVR/IWR services to Covance clients for the next five years.

The CRO also plans to collaborate with Phase Forward on technology used in the management and oversight of clinical trials, such as EDC, bedside data capture, electronic diaries and other enabling technologies with potential to improve the efficiency of drug development.

Covance said it remains “fully committed to providing our clients with integrated drug development solutions, including advanced technology for supporting clinical trials”.

Noting that Phase Forward was already the CRO’s preferred provider of EDC software for clinical trials, Joe Herring, chairman and chief executive officer of Covance, commented: “We believe our clients will benefit from Phase Forward’s industry-leading integrated data management platform and Covance’s integrated clinical trial solutions”.

The transaction also allows Covance’s management team to focus more attention and investment on “growing our service offerings in the larger markets we serve”, Herring added.

The acquisition of Covance’s IVRS/IWRS business, which is subject to closing conditions, is expected to be completed by the end of August. Additional details and the projected financial impact of the deal will be released on 27 July, when Phase Forward issues its results for the second quarter of 2009.