Icon buys a trial site network with an eye on patient data

Icon CEO Ciaran Murray

Irish CRO Icon ($ICLR) is expanding its drug launch and marketing services, trading $120 million in cash for MediMedia Pharma Solutions.

Global CRO Icon ($ICLR) bought a U.S.-based network of clinical research sites, expanding its stateside footprint and bringing in a trove of patient data the company believes will help it to improve study design.

The Irish firm paid an undisclosed sum for PMG Research, which operates 48 trial sites across 12 metro areas in the U.S. and has conducted more than 7,500 studies since its foundation in 1979. Through the deal, Icon inherits PMG's proprietary database of trial participants, and the company also brings partnerships with physicians and healthcare systems that give it access to electronic health records on more than 2 million patients.

The acquisition augments Icon's growing vault of patient data, a resource the company uses to better match patients to clinical trials in an effort to improve study outcomes.

In September, Icon signed a deal with IBM ($IBM) to use that company's famed Watson computing technology to pore over patients' clinical attributes and tab them for ideal studies in a given disease area. The PGM acquisition falls in line with that partnership, Icon said, reflecting the company's goal of harnessing data to reduce risks in clinical development.

"Enrolling and engaging patients in clinical trials is a key challenge within drug development," Icon CEO Ciaran Murray said in a statement. "Leveraging PMG Research's network, we will help customers to enhance clinical trial feasibility and improve patient enrolment timelines whilst also giving patients access to a broader range of care options through clinical trials."

Icon has been steadily growing since leaving the Irish Stock Exchange for the Nasdaq in 2013. In the first 9 months of this year, the company has booked $1.2 billion in revenue, pacing 5.2% ahead of 2014. Icon is expecting full-year revenue to come in at about $1.6 billion.

- read the statement

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