Eying Big Pharma needs, Icon explains clinical tech buyout

Under pressure to improve efficiency of drug trials for Big Pharma clients like Pfizer, Ireland-based Icon is beefing up its clinical tech offerings and pushing to set itself apart from other CROs. The contract researcher's group president of clinical services explained its recent buyout of eClinical firm Firecrest in an interview with Outsourcing-pharma.com.

Firecrest, an Irish firm that provides trials site-monitoring tools, has seen action in more than 200 clinical studies with 9 of the 10 biggest drug companies in the world among its users, Outsourcing-pharma.com reports. And Icon ($ICLR) is looking to use software like Firecrest's to improve the timelines of trials as the major CRO invests big dollars to serve the needs of its marquee customers such as Pfizer ($PFE), which recently inked pacts with Icon and Parexel in a move to outsource a large chunk of its drug development.

"Pfizer was already a client of Firecrest prior to Icon acquiring them, so we anticipate continuing and expanding the client relationship between Firecrest and Pfizer," Icon's Alan Morgan said to Outsourcing-pharma.com. And while Firecrest's tools have been used by other CROs to serve developers in trials, and the firm will honor its existing commitments with those outfits under Icon's ownership, but the thinking at Icon is that Firecrest won't be seeking new deals with other contract researchers.

In fact, Icon wants to make Firecrest's technology a key feature of its proprietary Iconik clinical trial management platform, announced last month as a way for developers and the CRO to gain visibility of multiple sources of data from trials in real time. This makes sense, given that Icon and its rivals are looking to a growing menu of IT tools for a competitive edge and to help provide value to their customers seeking to trim R&D costs.

- check out the interview in Outsourcing-pharma.com.