Covance and Novartis team up with eyes on Big Data

Covance ($CVD) has joined forces with Novartis ($NVS) to develop new ways to help drug developers quickly integrate and analyze huge swaths of study data.

Under the collaboration, Covance will step in to help expand the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research's (NIBR) existing clinical data warehouse, which already houses results from hundreds of studies. With that as a platform, the two plan to develop a state-of-the-art, scalable data farm that will allow the drugmaker to quickly, reliably and cheaply integrate large volumes of results from preclinical and clinical studies, the companies said.

Covance touts itself as producing more safety and efficacy data to support drug approvals than any other company in the world, and, working with Novartis, the CRO believes it can create a platform that will surpass the industry standard.

"A key differentiating feature of NIBR's data warehouse is that it can effectively store both preclinical and clinical data into a single repository, a particularly important feature for Covance and our clients," Dimitris Agrafiotis, the CRO's chief data officer, said in a statement. "... Integrating data across the preclinical and clinical divide is critical for advancing a molecule along the development pipeline and for enabling translational research. Pairing the two informatics teams will bring new thinking and innovation in an area that has been historically stagnant and underserved."

The move is Covance's second effort to expand its data vaults over the past few months, following a September agreement with dialysis giant Fresenius Medical Care that gives the CRO access to that company's trove of real-world results from sufferers of chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Covance plans to share that information with its clients in biopharma, allowing them to tailor their trial designs and R&D efforts to address real unmet needs.

Meanwhile, the CRO has been gradually ticking up its sales on the strength of growing demand and and expanding platform. Last quarter, Covance's revenue jumped 8.1% to $639 million, driven by 7.7% growth in its early-stage business and an 8.1% leap in central laboratory services.

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