Clinical trial traceability

Phase Forward acquires Waban Software to create integrated data analysis and reporting solution

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WALTHAM, Mass.—In a deal worth $14 million, Phase Forward has acquired Waban Software, a Cambridge, Mass.-based clinical data analysis and reporting company with operations in Mumbai, India. Waban will become the Waban Software Group within Phase Forward.

According to Martin Young, Phase Forward's vice president of corporate development, the acquisition of Waban extends Phase Forward's portfolio of clinical data solutions, enabling an integrated end-to-end solution from study setup through analysis and submission.

"This is a natural addition," he says. "The space that Waban covers is twofold: They cover statistical computing environment and provide a clinical aggregation platform, and create a clinical data repository for all of the information that comes in on a clinical trial."

The acquisition also positions Phase Forward to become a suite provider. Young notes that the company's strategy has been one of solution consolidation within its space, which it defines as "clinical development and safety solutions."

Young also notes that Waban's statistical computing environment and clinical data repository solutions offer automation, traceability and control of the key activities involved in the integration, analysis and reporting on clinical trial data. These solutions broaden solution coverage and simplify the solutions companies use to conduct clinical trials.

"They use multiple technologies, and we think that bringing that together under one vendor—as one trusted partner—will simplify that for clients," Young says. "They don't have to manage multiple relationships, multiple contracts and have project managers handling multiple vendors."

Young also notes that streamlining clinical efforts has taken on greater importance for life sciences companies amid greater scrutiny to ensure results produced and reported are high quality and fully traceable.

"If you can streamline the process and then you can do end-to-end traceability across it, that is something that regulators are very interested in," he said. "That is what makes this acquisition a natural downstream fit for us."

Young pointed out that Waban's SCE/CDR solution enables integration of data and metadata from multiple sources, aggregation and version control, which is critical to providing a secure, centralized repository for analyzing and storing clinical trial data sets.

In 2008, Waban generated approximately $4 million in revenue and break-even operating income. Waban's local operations will move to Phase Forward's headquarters in Waltham, with Waban CEO Himanshu Oberoi becoming vice president of the Waban Software Group at Phase Forward. Waban has 81 employees who will be split between Waltham and the company's office in Mumbai, India.

The acquisition marks Phase Forward's first foray into biostatistics, a path it previously hadn't traveled.

"We have witnessed growing demand from life sciences companies to streamline the link between the data management and biostatistics activities," adds Phase Forward CEO Bob Weiler.

Waban has demonstrated its ability to be an innovator in providing platform solutions supporting clinical data analysis and reporting, Young says.

"Combining Waban's strengths with our InForm electronic data capture (EDC) solution provides us with broad-based and some of the most comprehensive clinical data solutions in the market and adds to the solid momentum of our business," he said.

In recent years, Phase Forward has grown through acquisition. Most recently, in September 2008, the company acquired Radnor, Pa.-based Clarix LLC for $40 million in cash. Clarix makes Web-based clinical trial software, focusing on interactive response technology for managing data during studies.

There could be more acquisitions on the horizon as Phase Forward moves to take advantage of its positive cash position. The company plans to achieve organic growth through innovation, capitalize on technology and service partnerships and enhance its portfolio through complementary acquisitions.

"We have plans to continue to leverage the balance sheet that we have," Young said. "We also continue to build on some things organically as we invest in research and development."

The company also will take the wraps off an updated version of its InForm EDC solution later this summer, Young says.

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