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Oracle Makes a Play for Life Sciences - InternetNews.
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Oracle Makes a Play for Life Sciences

Oracle on Thursday said it has acquired the assets of a software company it says will pad its offerings for pharmaceutical companies -- and no it's not PeopleSoft.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company said it has taken over the operations of SiteWorks Solutions. The privately held Memphis firm supplies management software products, like its SiteMinder and TrialMinder platforms. The software is marketed to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions for clinical trials.

Both products are Web-based and run on the Oracle Database. SiteWorks will fall under the management of Oracle's Clinical division, which also makes data management and remote data capture software.

By law, companies in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical-device industries must record and track product complaints and adverse events suspected to be associated with any of the company's marketed products. These "cases" must be analyzed and reported to the regulatory agencies in each country where the product is marketed -- typically within 15 days of the initial report.

With all that data to organize, Oracle says it is a natural to enhance the platform and sell as a solution to other life sciences companies. The acquisition is similar to Oracle's purchase of San Francisco-based NetForce in 2002.

Oracle spokesman Ryan Mikolasik said the companies have served joint customers.

"We started talking to SiteWorks back in May about a possible acquisition," Mikolasik told internetnews.com. "All that remains now is putting the Oracle name on the software and incorporating it on a CD."

SiteWorks CEO Dee Anna Smith and all key employees are expected to stay on and move into Oracle offices in Boston, Mikolasik said.

Oracle says it has about 80 percent of market share of the drug testing industry and that its clinical suite of applications supports the research process for 13 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies.

The investment in drug testing is strategic considering the multi-billion dollar life sciences industry. Oracle said the challenge is two-fold. Pharmaceutical companies need to reduce the $800 million cost of producing a new drug, and research institutions need to operate more efficiently in order to be attractive to those pharmaceutical companies.

Mikolasik also points out that managing all of that data is a hefty job that Oracle and its development group is used to.

"For example, a company is working on a gene that causes cancer and needs to run a clinical trial," he said. "There is a gamut of drug discovery tests and specific pharmaceutical trials associated with this such as blood pressure testing and MRIs."