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BioClinica Acquires CardioNow

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Newtown, Pa.-based contract research organization (CRO) BioClinica is continuing its efforts toward becoming a clinical trial technology “super brand” with its recent acquisition of the CardioNow unit of Agfa Healthcare.

The acquisition consists mainly of Agfa’s CardioNow technology, but two key employees—one from sales and one from operations—have joined BioClinica’s staff. BioClinica did not release financial terms of the deal.

“We didn’t disclose because it’s not material to our financials,” said BioClinica president and CEO Mark Weinstein. “Basically, as a ballpark, the business’s revenues were just under a million and profitable.  That’s sort of where we’re going with it.”

The acquisition may not be material in terms of numbers, but it will contribute significantly to BioClinica’s service capabilities, Weinstein said. The CRO, which offers medical image management and electronic data capture (EDC), can now offer electronic transmission of medical images for multisite clinical trials.

Although medical images from clinical trials are electronic, the files are still typically sent from clinical trial sites using overnight delivery, Weinstein said—a process that requires more work on the shipping and receiving ends and does not allow for on-site quality control of the images. Electronic image transmission solves that problem.

“When we look across the horizon, we see people getting more and more comfortable with the issue of electronic transmission as it relates to speed, cost and our ability to actually do some of the quality control of the images before they ever leave the site,” Weinstein said. “For our clients, they’re very interested because it’s the last part of the process that was really completely manual.”

CardioNow’s image transmission capabilities will decrease the need for re-scans and provide better quality data to clients because BioClinica will be able to check images before they leave a site, Weinstein said.

Established in 1999 and acquired by Healthlabs in 2004, CardioNow was purchased in 2005 by Agfa Healthcare, a division of the Belgium-based digital technology giant Agfa-Gevaert Group. CardioNow was a very small portion of Agfa Healthcare’s $1.7-billion business, Weinstein said.

“Quite honestly, Agfa is a multi-billion-dollar company, and I don’t think [CardioNow] got the attention it really needed, which is why they said, ‘Clinical research is fine, but it’s not one of our fortes, so we should probably find a better home for it,’” Weinstein said.

Prior to the acquisition, BioClinica had worked with CardioNow and was familiar with its technology, which, according to Weinstein, is used in 500 catheterization laboratories around the world. BioClinica had considered building its own image transmission technology but saw advantages to buying an established brand and reputation like CardioNow’s.

“Pharmaceutical companies do not want to have risk with vendors because they have so much risk in their compounds. So, when you talk about picking up something like a CardioNow that has been around since 1999—that has processed millions of images—those are the kind of things that pharma likes to hear when you’re selling to them. It reduces the risk. Us building it wouldn’t necessarily have the same aura around it,” Weinstein said.

Within the next six months, BioClinica plans to integrate the CardioNow technology with the EDC capabilities of BioClinica’s eClinical division, which was created as a result of the March 2008 acquisition of Phoenix Data Systems.

“It will go beyond just the transporting of images … Where not only do we do the transmission of images but we’ll give you an electronic data capture form so we can do all the online queries right there. There’s no longer a piece of paper or a Word document that rides with the image; there’s actually a database that rides with it,” Weinstein said.

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