Co-creating the future
Lilly and SAS build on a 30-year relationship to bring new drugs to market safely, effectively and economically
Thirty years ago, SAS software was just another solution that Eli Lilly and Company used.
Today, SAS and Lilly share a partnership that includes quarterly meetings with high-level executives from both companies to find better ways to use data to ultimately “improve human health and provide more value to the patient,” explains Kecia Serwin, SAS’ General Manager for Health and Life Sciences.
“The opportunity to partner with SAS is the chance to co-create what the future looks like,” says Michael Heim, Lilly’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “SAS is important to us in terms of demonstrating safety and efficacy in our products. Our mantra,” he adds, “is ‘information connecting innovation to patients.’ SAS helps us drive our patient-centricity efforts to achieve that outcome.”
After years of using SAS to build its own solutions, Lilly now uses SAS Drug Development, a centralized, integrated system for managing, analyzing, reporting and reviewing clinical research information. It allows teams spread across the globe to collaborate in near-real time, shrinking the time it takes to analyze data and move critical drugs through the pipeline. Lilly uses SAS to submit data to the US Food and Drug Administration and to regulators around the world.
Working from a common platform
“More medical information is moving from paper to electronic, and that provides an explosion of data and an opportunity to start looking at patterns to better see how certain patients – based on characteristics like genetic makeup – respond to certain treatments,” explains Serwin. “This provides a host of ‘what-if’ scenarios that pharmaceutical companies can model to speed to market safe and effective medicines.”
What-if scenarios are not easy to execute in an environment that involves trillions of data points and tens of thousands of patients enrolled in clinical trials.
“SAS becomes very critical to us in the analysis phase when we are articulating the value, if you will, of the products we discover and bring to market,” Heim says.
Innovation at a better price
“If we can save a day in analysis, that’s a day quicker to market,” Heim says.
“We need to bring medicines to the market at an appropriate price,” says Dr. Steven Paul, Lilly’s Executive Vice President of Science and Technology. “Data analysis in real time becomes absolutely essential for what we’re all about, and SAS has proven incredibly helpful at improving the speed with which we make decisions and move compounds forward.”
Lilly uses SAS to look back at 10- and 15-year periods to see costs and attrition rates of the various molecules it has studied. That helps Lilly to understand costs going forward and determine which molecules “may have shorter development cycles or timelines,” says Paul.
Serwin says customers are reporting efficiency gains and process improvements using SAS Drug Development. Processes that once took weeks with many manual inputs now take just hours, saving precious time and money.
The regular quarterly meetings between Lilly and SAS have helped cement a partnership that is more than a word on a press release. “This is a relationship where you can put difficult issues on the table and work together to find solutions. SAS has been great to work with,” Heim says.
Adds Serwin: “Both companies want the other to succeed, and we want to help lead the industry.”
This story appears in the Second Quarter 2008 issue of