In its April acquisition of Waban Software, Phase Forward picked up a specialist in clinical data repositories and data integration. It is the latest signal that, far from being intimidated by Oracle, Phase Forward intends to offer a similarly broad suite of products, the better to simplify the technology landscape for its customers.

Following previous purchases of software for drug safety (Lincoln Technologies), Phase I lab data (Green Mountain Logic) and interactive voice response (Clarix), Phase Forward has sought for several years to provide as many of pivotal clinical trial technologies as it can. In this case, the Waltham, Mass., electronic data capture leader said the deal took only a few weeks to assemble. It brings the company an electronic environment in which industrial-strength biostatistical analysis can occur in an audited manner.

End To End

"Waban’s SCE/CDR solution also enables integration of data and metadata from multiple sources, aggregation and version control, which is critical to providing a secure, centralized repository for analyzing and storing clinical trial data sets," the news release stated. Competitors in the clinical data repository niche include Oracle, Entimo, SAS and Insightful Software, which was acquired by Tibco.

"[Waban] are focused on the biostats area—the reporting and analysis of data in clinical trials," notes Phase Forward's VP of corporate development, Martin Young. "We've not really played well in the biostats group. The stuff they do is something that has started to emerge as a market category. A lot of our customers have been talking to us about the downstream need."

As data in a trial are cleaned and prepared for analysis, storing and moving the data can become complex and, needless to say, subject to regulation. "People are looking for a broader end-to-end solution," Young says. "Waban provides this platform and environment to control and automate what you are doing. In the enterprise sale, this definitely helps. People are increasingly focusing on traceability and auditability of results of trials. You can take a submission that has some figures and listings and trace those results back to the data and analyses that were done."

In addition to helping customers work with their data, the Waban tools, which ClinPage wrote about two years ago, may also herald additional interest in data standards at Phase Forward.


The industry is bedeviled with a virtually unlimited number of ways to structure and format clinical trial data. That complicates partnerships and mergers between companies running clinical trials. Even companies that claim to support the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) may have uneven implementations of the data standards across different therapeutic areas, geographic areas or corporate departments. Over time, Waban repositories could allow Phase Forward to offer customers a more unified, standards-based product suite. Phase Forward could use repositories to wrap together data both from systems it already owns and from external systems at other vendors or contract research organizations. Other big EDC competitors, including Medidata and Parexel, have been moving in similar directions.d9A2t49mkex

In terms of cash remaining after the deal, Phase Forward's financial statements suggest it has by far the largest war chest in the eclinical space, with at least $115 million remaining in the bank after the Waban purchase. Young offered no clues about where that money might be spent next. "Our intent is to put together a coherent end to end set of solutions that makes sense for our customers," he says. The gaps in Phase Forward's imposing lineup are not wide, but could include systems to manage images, payments, regulatory documents and trial monitors.