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Real-world evidence helps healthcare companies prevent drug abuse and boost development

SAS paper reveals big data analytics puts patients back at the centre of healthcare 

03 July 2013 - – Amidst confusing court rulings by the Food and Drug Administration about which pharmaceutical products are safe to approve, SAS, the leader in business analytics, today urges healthcare companies to analyse the big data at their disposal to gain a deeper understanding of their drugs and put patients back at the centre of treatment. SAS has released a new paper uncovering how big data analytics can help pharmaceutical companies create new models for success – connecting marketing, financial and scientific drivers in new and innovative ways.

As manufacturers and regulators alike struggle to ensure that drugs are safe to use and tamper-proof, data analytics has provided pharmaceutical companies, such as Intellipharmaceutics, with invaluable insight into the scope and impact of drug abuse – and how to stop it. The company analysed unstructured data from social media, forums and websites to understand how users abused controlled-release oxycodone to develop Rexista, a tamper-proof formulation that is alcohol and abuse resistant.

Dr. Isa Odidi, CEO and co-Chief Scientific Officer of Intellipharmaceutics International Ltd., explains: "The best place to get the facts is from the people who are actively participating in the abuse. Using social media goes beyond tamper-proof drugs. Take side effects for example. In the past, we had to wait for people to report adverse events during research. Now you can sift for information in real-time to innovate quickly and gain competitive advantage.

"The current industry-wide methods of measuring drug performance and innovation are out of date. There is so much information out there that we can tap into. But manual data collection and analysis only scratches the surface, and is extremely time-consuming – to really take advantage of social media, companies will need sophisticated and intelligent data analytics tools."

Digital technologies offer a great opportunity to unlock new insights and innovate service delivery. The detection and prevention of abuse through social media is just one of the ways in which pharmaceutical companies can harness the power of digital technologies. Big data analytics enables them to better understand patient populations, innovate faster, improve drug efficacy and safety, speed time to market, and increase sales revenue through more targeted communications.

Electronic medical records can provide crucial information about patients' clinical journeys which unveil invaluable insights about drug efficacy outside of controlled environments, identify new channels to market and understand prescriber behaviour. Equally, listening to direct feedback from patients allows firms to analyse, in real-time, how a product is performing and how the brand is perceived.

To truly harness the potential of this data, SAS has taken the lead in developing a new industry-wide collaborative towards pharmaceutical transparency. The initiative, which brings together pharmaceutical leaders including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), aims to unlock a wealth of insight from clinical trials data to create a larger, independent environment that will benefit researchers and the public.

Simon Tilley, head of pharmaceuticals at SAS UK & Ireland, says: "Pharmaceutical companies need to shift away from a 'we make it, you buy it' mentality and collaborate to achieve a common goal: better patient outcomes. The age of the blockbuster drug has gone – healthcare companies have to innovate or face the consequences. For those companies willing to embrace big data analytics, the benefits will stretch beyond R&D and lead to evidence-based innovation, creation and efficiency across the entire organisation."

SAS has identified the key benefits the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries can reap by applying analytics to real-world data in a white paper released today. Below are the top five findings:

  • Build a stronger pipeline of drug candidates

By combining the entire organisation's data, analysts can build stronger pre-clinical models to reduce pipeline attrition rates. Integration with real-world data can give early insights into market demand and sentiment, and enable accurate forecasts of a drug's commercial potential.

  • Improve efficiency of clinical trials and increase speed to market

There is a narrow window of opportunity to recoup staggering R&D costs before patents expire - but limited data access and a lack of real-world evidence hinder the design of effective clinical trials. Listening to what patients are saying online and analysing electronic medical records can help identify niche patient populations and new target markets.

  • Create personalised drugs

With access to anonymised medical records, social media data and patient experiences, companies can use big data analytics to reveal previously unseen patterns in large, complex cohorts. They can then build models to predict with greater accuracy how certain patient populations will respond to a drug, what the potential market is, and how quickly R&D costs might be recouped.

  • Quickly understand and maximise the value of orphan drugs

Orphan drugs may not always start out with a huge profit incentive but drugs can go on to have much wider applications and benefits than anticipated. By tapping into available data – such as medical notes, media reports, clinical data, online forums and discussion groups – companies can identify a product's more lucrative uses and speed up route to market significantly.

  • Increase the rate of innovation

Companies are increasingly embracing the idea of open innovation: breaking down silos containing anonymised data that external research and analytics experts could draw collective intelligence from. Not only does this fuel the generation of new ideas and perspectives, but it can also lead to cost reductions and, in some cases, co-funded development projects.


Notes to Editors

To download a copy of the white paper 'Big Data and real-world evidence: building a healthier future for pharma and patients' please click here.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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