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Parexel developments offer a clinical trial, big data parable for the times

Monday, June 26, 2017

Without a doubt, the big story in medicine this year is the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) driven by big data capture and compilation.

According to Kevin Maney in Newsweek, “The combination of data and AI was not available until the past year or two, and it can lead to the kind of automation that has disrupted so many other industries.” This holds true for everything ranging from the rising field of theranostics to AI screening applications to keep physicians from making mistakes.

Drug clinical trials are on the same disruptive fast track, as evidenced by a trio of announcements from Parexel. The biopharmaceutical CRO timed the key announcements around the annual Drug Information Association meeting (DIA) held last week in Chicago.

Two of the announcements—a new Big Data product launch and a collaboration to capture patient information in clinical trials—are newsworthy. But the third announcement—that Parexel has entered into an agreement to be acquired for $5 billion by Pamplona, a private equity firm—is an indication of the growing pace of mergers in the sector powered by the demand for data assets.

“Life science companies have access to more data than ever before. However, that data is meaningless without the ability to derive insights from it that can inform and drive timely and actionable decisions,” Sy Pretorius, senior vice president & chief scientific officer at Parexel, told CenterWatch. “Parexel’s processes, technology and expertise allow clients to yield true value from this data.”

Data assets are in demand as AI applications open new frontiers in biomedicine. Parexel’s introduction of its Connected Journey platform has accelerated a number of key drug developments processes, according to Pretorius. Connected Platforms fits well with other Parexel services to move from single solutions to the industry’s largest system of interrelated data-driven innovations.

“These processes include moving more rapidly from final protocol available to the last site initiated, accelerating site activation and achieving faster turnaround times from database lock to clinical study report,” he said. “As a result, Parexel is helping biopharmaceutical clients to complete clinical trials 22% faster than the industry average.”
The company said that the platform consists of more than 40 data-driven services.

In its second announcement, Parexel offered up an example of its goal to capture real-time data via wearable devices through a collaboration with Sanofi, a life sciences medical innovations company. This coincides with Parexel’s recent launch of Perceptive MyTrials platform, a patient solution that securely captures, transmits, stores and visualizes study subject data in clinical trials.

The project with Sanofi is designed to leverage data collection to replace or reduce the number of clinical assessments and on-site visit during trials.

“Wearables have shown their potential to address several challenges related to clinical trials and increase patients’ ability to participate, driving patient engagement and creating more opportunities for decentralized trial sites,” said Pretorius.

He added that they will seek to determine how wearables can optimize study performance and accelerate drug development. It will also allow the companies to examine how data collected from wearables can be streamlined into a single, scalable data system to provide clinical insight.

“Our pilot study using our recently launched patient sensor solution is being conducted to demonstrate the scientific and medical viability of wearables,” said Pretorius. “In the ongoing study, patient data is being collected remotely and simultaneously via multiple wearable devices. The final results of this study are expected in the near future.”

The wearables study is a good example of the Connected Journey strategy, he noted. The projects are “incredibly relevant” in today’s clinical study environment. Pretorius cited the growing need to integrate data from all sources for informed trial design and drug development.

On the acquisition front, Pamplona came in with a high bid that will pay a 23.3% premium to acquire Parexel. The sale of Parexel had been speculated since early May, with Pamplona one of the several suitors for Parexel. According to Wall Street Journal reporter Dana Mattioli, there has been a flurry of merger activity in the sector of late.

“The announcement is the culmination of a comprehensive review of the opportunities available to the company, including interest solicited and received from multiple parties with the assistance of independent financial and legal advisors,” said Josef von Rickenbach, chairman and chief executive officer of Parexel. “Having considered these opportunities, the Parexel Board of Directors unanimously determined that this all-cash transaction and the significant, certain value it provides is in the best interest of Parexel shareholders, as well as our company.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year subject to approval by a majority of shareholders.  


This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 25, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »

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