BioClinica, a diversified contract clinical trials services provider, has bought global patient recruitment and retention firm MediciGroup. The acquisition continues consolidation of the patient recruitment services market.
Financial terms were not disclosed for the private equity-backed deal, which BioClinica CEO John Hubbard, Ph.D., characterized as “small-to-mid-sized” given Medici’s 40-employee headcount. Medici will be fully integrated into BioClinica as a new business division led by Medici’s founder and CEO Liz Moench.
Hubbard said the acquisition gives BioClinica the ability to sell patient recruitment services as an integrated offering. Although best known for its imaging and technology services, BioClinica also owns CCBR, one of the largest global site networks with 26 research centers across 14 countries and the capacity to manage 25,000 trial subjects.
“The key for us is to be able to demonstrate that the combined value of the clinical trial site network—which we are going to continue to expand and grow—with our patient recruitment engine will give us better reliability and predictability in meeting our patient enrollment targets,” said Hubbard.
Historically, patient recruitment services have been used primarily to rescue under-enrolling studies. Hubbard said the acquisition gives BioClinica the opportunity to change that paradigm and apply a more analytical and comprehensive approach to meeting patient recruitment goals by using its own site network and working with research centers hand-picked by sponsors. “This could be a compelling value proposition for both CROs and pharma,” said Hubbard, who joined BioClinica in January after leaving Pfizer where he was head of worldwide development operations.
“The secret-sauce here is building this into an integrated offering. It’s not an add-on. If I commit to enrolling 1,500 patients, it’s using all of the things I have at my disposal to find and screen and enroll 1,500 eligible patients,” Hubbard said.
The acquisition includes affiliates MediciGlobal and Access to Patients, which is Medici’s marketing division that directs social media and internet-based technologies. Medici, which specializes in orphan disease and unique patient populations for hard-to-recruit trials, also provides a lost-to-follow-up service (L2FU) that minimizes the number of patients dropping out of studies and has established relationships with more than 30 global patient communities. The acquisition also will support BioClinica’s other business segments, including offering patient recruitment capabilities as an adjunct to medical imaging services.
Industry experts anticipate further consolidation of the patient recruitment services market. Two years ago, PPD acquired patient recruitment service provider Acurian to more effectively compete against other major CROs with organically developed patient recruitment service divisions.
Post-acquisition, Acurian continues to operate as a separate business unit of PPD. Acurian sells services both to sponsors and large CROs that directly compete with PPD for business. In contrast, the MediciGroup will be fully integrated into BioClinica. About 25% of BioClinica’s sales are with CROs directly. Since the company specializes in niche areas, it only competes with traditional CROs in a few areas where capabilities overlap. In the imaging area, for example, BioClinica competes with Parexel and Icon. Most CROs don’t sell technology, such as CTMS or EDC systems, which is BioClinica’s other main business.
The integration is expected to go smoothly since the two companies have worked together on studies where the MediciGlobal team has leveraged data from BioClinica’s technology to complete patient enrollments. In addition, the companies will collaborate on current study opportunities where the sponsor company has selected both CCBR’s site network and MediciGroup’s patient recruitment services. In January, Medici’s 40 employees will relocate to BioClinica facilities in the Philadelphia area. The combined company will have 1,290 employees worldwide.
“We can actually use these studies to pilot integrating the services together and demonstrating the value of a combined offering. That is key. For me, it’s not just being able to do it once. It’s being able to do it consistently and meeting or exceeding the enrollment targets for the studies that we are involved in,” said Hubbard.
Neal McCarthy, managing director of Fairmount Partners, said major CROs, in particular, will drive the acquisition of patient recruitment companies since they typically have a large backlog of trials requiring patient enrollment to convert them into a realized stream of revenue.
“The bigger the CRO, the more it makes sense. If you are a CRO doing $100 million in revenue and working on 20 trials, more recruitment could certainly help. If you are doing a billion in revenue and working on 100 trials, recruiting will help you that much more,” McCarthy said. “If CROs can speed things along by picking the right sites and by using recruitment techniques to accelerate the trials, they get their money sooner, they grow faster and they make more money.”
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