Clinical research specialist WCG has acquired VeraSci, a provider of e-clinical software, translation services, as well as endpoints and assessments, according to a July 26, 2021 press release.
The deal closed on July 20 and saw WCG pay USD 330m in cash for all outstanding shares of VeraSci. The transaction was funded by a USD 200m term loan and USD 140m from WCG’s revolving credit facility.
Donald A. Deieso, Executive Chairman and CEO of WCG, told Slator that WCG and VeraSci “share a client base that includes biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations (CROs),” while WCG also works with academic medical centers and research institutions.
WCG has 4,000 staff across North America, Europe, and Asia. The company operates two segments, Ethical Review and Clinical Trial Solutions (CTS), and has a string of prior life sciences acquisitions under its belt.
VeraSci provides services including translation, cultural adaptation, electronic clinical outcome assessment (eCOA), and electronic patient-reported outcome (ePRO) implementation services across a range of therapeutic areas, such as dementia, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, oncology, and Parkinson’s disease. The company was founded in 2004, is ISO 17100-certified, and has around 180 employees, according to its LinkedIn page.
Although Deieso declined to share any financial metrics for WCG or VeraSci, a July 27 regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission showed WCG Clinical Inc. generated FY 2020 revenues of USD 463.4m and USD 137.6m in the three months to the end of March 2021.
The filing is related to a planned initial public offering on the Nasdaq in which WCG Clinical Inc. aims to raise up to USD 765m, as reported by Reuters. In the same filing, WCG estimated they had supported around 90% of all global clinical trials in the two years to December 31, 2020.
In-house Translation Capabilities
On whether VeraSci’s translation offering was an important factor in the acquisition, Deieso said there were many areas for collaboration and that “translations have indeed [been] a key aspect of our considerations. Having such capabilities, now in-house, to serve the many clinical trials in which we are engaged will be a meaningful benefit to our customers over time.”
Deieso highlighted VeraSci’s translation expertise, noting that they bring more than 15 years of experience in working with clinical trial translations and have a dedicated language services division.
“The cost of translation and cultural adaptation are a fraction of the cost of a clinical trial, but the costs of incorrect translations are high and the risks to patients are real” — Donald A. Deieso, Executive Chairman and CEO, WCG
As for how the language services division operates, Deieso told Slator they work with freelancers as well as in-house translators. “In each case, a translation is not complete until it is carefully reviewed by expert clinicians — fluent in the scientific and cultural nuances of each particular language — to ensure accuracy,” he said.
According to Deieso, “VeraSci does not use machine translation because of the critical nature of the work we do.” He added that “the cost of translation and cultural adaptation are a fraction of the cost of a clinical trial, but the costs of incorrect translations are high and the risks to patients are real.”
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Granted, language services are one arrow in WCG’s substantial clinical research quiver, but Deieso said that WCG sees localization services as a “growing area” and they are receiving “more and more requests for the use of eCOA and ePRO translation and implementation services.”
In servicing the translation needs of CROs and biopharmaceutical companies, WCG competes directly with major, global language service providers with expertise in clinical life sciences. Among them are TransPerfect, RWS, and Welocalize; the latter bolstering its life sciences offering considerably with the acquisition of Next Level Globalization (NLG) in July 2021.
VeraSci will be rebranded as WCG VeraSci and will operate from its existing headquarters in North Carolina.