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May 25, 2021updated 11 Aug 2021 4:17pm

WCG: Avoca deal caps busy M&A period for venerable clinical services firm

With yet another acquisition, WCG is continuing its quest to cover every aspect of clinical trials.

By Kezia Parkins

Earlier this month WCG acquired life-sciences consulting firm The Avoca Group to expand its portfolio of solutions for enhancing clinical trial quality management and compliance.

The latest acquisition in WCG’s long history of mergers and partnerships adds another notch to the firm’s ever-growing belt of acquisitions that have poised it to become a leading provider of clinical trial solutions and a pioneer of patient ethics and safety.

52 years ago WCG established independent ethical review via the creation of the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB), the world’s first IRB.

The WIRB was founded by medical research trailblazer, physician and philanthropist Dr Angela J. Bowen. It was the first organisation of its kind, dedicated to protecting the rights and welfare of patients partaking in clinical trials.

WIRB was established three years before the National Institutes of Health (NIH) required ethics review of human research and four years before the media alerted the world to the ethically abusive Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis conducted between 1932 and 1972, which saw impoverished Black men in the US enrolled without informed consent or being told that they had the disease – one that is treatable with penicillin, which was not offered.

The study caused the deaths of 128 of its participants, either directly from syphilis or related complications.

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It was eight years after WIRB was founded that federal regulations required IRB review of human research.

 

WCG consolidates institutional review boards

Since its founding, WCG has set up five industry-leading IRBs – Western IRB (WIRB), Copernicus Group IRB (CGIRB), Midlands IRB (MLIRB), New England IRB (NEIRB), and Aspire IRB, the first female and minority-led independent IRB. Back in October 2020, the firm announced their consolidation into a single WCG IRB brand.

This unification, WCG said, will allow WCG IRB clients to experience “a singular, unified process and revolutionary submission platform that will not only elevate the user experience but also continue to deliver gold-standard service with the highest regard to ethics and integrity”.

Although WCG’s solutions are built on the foundation of ethical review, the company has evolved to include a suite of complementary clinical services and technologies, integrated to accelerate growth and maximise efficiency for clinical trial providers.

The firm has 3,000 institutional and academic medical centre partners that work across ethical review, study planning and site optimisation, patient engagement, scientific and regulatory review and market intelligence and insights.

 

WCG’s buyout binge

Over the past few years, WCG has been on a buyout binge that has added even more dimensions to its corporate remit.

In December 2020 WCG acquired clinical trial solutions firm Trifecta Clinical, adding Trifecta’s site communication platform InvestigatorSpace to its roster of solutions as well as its virtual training programs and safety documentation services.

In 2019 WCG acquired First Clinical Research, organiser of the MAGI (Model Agreements & Guidelines International) Clinical Research Conference and publisher of the Journal of Clinical Research Best Practices, which is distributed monthly to over 50,000 subscribers.

That year the firm also snapped up PharmaSeek, which specialises in consulting, patient recruitment and training for clinical research sites, with the aim of reducing timelines for clinical trials. It also bought out Analgesic Solutions, which looks to improve the quality of clinical trials in which pain is an indicator of an underlying condition.

The addition of The Avoca Group has bolstered WCG’s portfolio of solutions focused on improving patient access to important therapies by reducing timelines and budgets in clinical trials while ensuring regulatory compliance and improving quality management.

“The Avoca Group fortifies WCG leadership in clinical trial benchmarking and analytics, joining the capabilities of previously acquired KMR Group and Metrics Champion Consortium, creating an industry-leading organization uniquely positioned to drive quality management best practices and compliance across the global clinical trials industry,” said WCG.

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