OpenClinica rides open source model to gain paying EDC users

To hear OpenClinica CEO Cal Collins tell it, his company broke into the competitive electronic data capture (EDC) software business several years ago by essentially giving the goods away for free. Now the pioneering provider of open source software for clinical trials is making inroads with a version of its product that customers pay to use.

OpenClinica now has about 70 customers who pay monthly subscriptions to use the enterprise version of the firm's open source software, which comes with additional technical support services and capabilities that don't come standard with the free version that can be download from its website, Collins tells FierceBiotech IT. The Waltham, MA-based firm came out with the enterprise software around the beginning of 2010, and has been steadily signing up paying customers from academia, CROs, government agencies and life sciences companies.

Electronic data capture software, which is used to electronically store and manage data in clinical trials, is now used in the vast majority of large, late-stage studies and major vendors like Phase Forward (now owned by Oracle) and Medidata Solutions ($MDSO) get a lot of their business from large pharma customers. OpenClinica, on the other hand, has found an audience for its open source software among investigators who want the technology for smaller studies such as Phase I trials and studies on drugs after they are approved, often called Phase IV trials. Why is the technology appealing for these studies? The software is relatively inexpensive, easy to use and flexible, Collins says.

"It's pretty justifiable to say that OpenClinica's growth has really exploded over the past year, and no other vendor can really match that adoption rate," Collins says. "More importantly, I think it's a testament to the power of an open source model for clinical trials software that really accelerates and drastically lowers the costs and barriers to adoption of electronic data capture software in diverse settings all around the globe."

In a release Wednesday, OpenClinica said that it's releasing an updated version of its enterprise software. Collins tells FierceBiotech IT that the new version provides additional features like visual tools to aid in clinical trial design. He also says the software can be used in large clinical trials. The small company might have to battle its big competitors in the EDC arena to win many deals for large, global, late-stage studies, though. And it faces plenty of other players like BioClinica for business from small and medium-sized developers.

- here's the company's release

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