Losses increased in the third quarter at (Nasdaq: ETWC) even as a new interim chief executive officer strove to rein in costs at the provider of so-called “eClinical” trial services.

“eTrials’ third quarter performance was somewhat mixed,” said CEO Chuck Piccirillo in a statement. “We made significant progress in reining in expenses, reducing our operating expenses to a $4.9 million run rate; however, end of quarter backlog [in contracts] was lighter than we would have liked.

Business is improving in respects, Piccirillo noted.

“On the strength of a 25 percent increase in contract awards for the first nine months of the year, we began eight studies during the quarter and began implementing an additional nine studies after the quarter close,” he explained.

For the third quarter, eTrials revenues dropped to $3.7 million from $4.1 million for the same quarter in 2007 and from $4 million in the second quarter this year. The company reported a loss of $6.1 million, or 56 cents a share, versus a $1.3 million loss a year ago. eTrials took a $4 million charge against revenues, thus driving up the loss.

The company reported $5.2 million in contract awards spread across 14 customers for the quarter. Its backlog of business is $21 million, compared with $18.7 million a year earlier.