EDC tops poll of R&D productivity technologies

The proliferation of eClinical tools and other technologies has created numerous opportunities to improve the efficiency of biopharma R&D through automation, simulation and other processes. Yet the choice of tools raises a question--which technology will have the biggest impact on near-term productivity?

William Blair analyst John Kreger put this question to 224 biopharma executives in a recent survey. A fifth of those polled chose electronic data capture (EDC), with respondents from Big Pharma, mid-tier players and biotechs all naming the technology as their top pick. The result, Kreger notes, is somewhat surprising. EDC is the cornerstone of the eClinical toolkit--and focus of competition between Medidata ($MDSO) and Oracle ($ORCL)--and as such is well established. It is no longer an up-and-coming technology.

"When we speak with industry participants, they seem more excited about risk-based monitoring as an emerging tool that will drive efficiencies over the long term, as opposed to EDC, which is broadly adopted already," Kreger wrote in a research note presenting the survey results. As far back as 2007, researchers running a survey for publication in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found an estimated 41% of Canadian clinical trials were using EDC. And growth since then has pushed penetration rates higher still. A FierceBiotech IT article from 2010 quoted an analyst as saying Phase III was already fairly well saturated with EDC products.

Clearly, this limits the potential for EDC to drive further productivity gains, although lower penetration in Phase I and IV--as well as slower adoption in emerging markets--leaves some room for improvement. Vendors are also trying to improve productivity--and further tie clients to their platforms--by integrating EDC with other eClinical tools. Many of the tools integrated into these eClinical suites trailed EDC in the William Blair survey. Clinical trial management systems (CTMS), electronic patient reported outcomes (ePRO) and other technologies all received some votes in the poll, but none got close to EDC.

- here's the journal abstract
- view the 2010 FierceBiotech IT article