The Growing Importance of Big Data in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The role of big data in the pharmaceutical industry is growing bigger and more important as time goes on - and this could help improve patients' health.

November 14, 2018
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My colleagues have raised many valid points about the evolving role of big data in the healthcare industry. Most of the focus is on the role of big data in healthcare delivery at hospitals and clinics. However, there is a very important reason that big data is needed in the pharmaceutical industry as well.

A 2013 report from James Cattell at McKinsey states that big data can add $100 billion in value to the pharmaceutical industry by improving research and development. However, there are other benefits of big data that have received less attention. These include the importance of using predictive analytics to identify opportunities in the market. They might find that predictive analytics algorithms may help them identify demographic factors that will help them see how the increase of certain diseases will rise over a given time frame.

Role of Big Data in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the world’s most important industries, and the United States has a 45% share of the global market. But when lawsuits are filed, it can lead to some of these companies spending billions in settlements. False claims are the costliest lawsuits, but there are also liability lawsuits that cost pharma companies billions of dollars annually.

Big data is becoming a key tool to reduce the pharma industry’s expenses and lawsuits from the very start: research and development.

Research and Development Stagnation and Success Rate

One of the key areas of pharmaceuticals liability is the research and development process. Drugs are rushed to market, and common issues can be overlooked. This has pushed many companies into a state of stagnation wherein there are only a few products in their pipeline.

Big data is being used to help:

  • Improve research efficiency
  • Optimize innovation
  • Create new tools for healthcare professionals

And this is just the start. Data is also being utilized as a form of predictive modeling, using clinical and molecular data to help develop drugs that are safer and more effective.

Clinical trials are also being optimized. Patients are being chosen through the use of data and can be analyzed quickly through big data. The information may include patients based on genetic makeup, and it’s easier to target specific populations or persons with genetic concerns of diseases or health issues.

What does this mean?

Trials can include smaller sample sizes with higher success rates, lower expenses and faster trials.

Real-Time, Rapid Identification

Real-time information analysis is possible, or becoming possible, thanks to big data solutions. Trials can now be monitored in real-time to allow for:

  • Quicker safety measures
  • Faster response to costly issues
  • Fewer unnecessary delays

When real-time analysis is performed, it’s possible for research and development to have a higher success rate with better outcomes for trial participants.

This is why drug makers are working to make it easier to obtain your health records. Health records are a data mine that big pharma companies can use to better understand how medicine works in the real-world environment.

Pharma companies are teaming up with tech companies that can make sense of big data.

Real-world evidence offers a powerful tool to:

  • Correct issues with drugs
  • Provide value for drugs

Random clinical trials are less effective than real-world information because there are strict controls in place. Real-world information can even help connect drugs to new usages that the company didn’t realize were possible.

Data is being gathered from:

  • Medical records
  • Insurance claims
  • Social media

Hospitals and medical professionals may be able to determine which medicine provides better outcomes for their patients, or where a certain drug may impact tumor growth more than another.

Major drug companies now have departments that are collecting data across multiple diseases, analyzing studies and using information to address their drugs, making them more potent and effective. Big data has allowed these companies to combat the rising costs of traditional clinical trials while still offering an effective way to help patients.

Big Data is Revolutionizing the Drug Industry

The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing massive changes, largely due to advances in big data. This is going to help them identify new market opportunities, save money and improve the R&D process to release more effective drugs to the market.