The world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are tying the future success of their research and development (R&D) initiatives to the internet, yet they are falling short of leveraging the full power of the web, according to a survey conducted by Andersen Consulting.
One-half of the pharmaceutical R&D executives interviewed (54%) report that internet-related technologies are fundamentally changing their R&D processes, and approximately the same number (58%) feel a high level of urgency for new internet technology. These global industry leaders also agree that, in the next three years, their usage of these technologies will increase dramatically in a number of areas:
• Almost three-quarters (74%) will use Netsource IT applications or application services providers (26% today)
• Sixty percent believe they will capture and transmit clinical trial data electronically (14% today)
• More than one-half (56%) envision recruiting clinical trial participants electronically (10% currently)
• Sixty-four percent anticipate filing new drug approval applications with government regulatory agencies (30% today)
“These firms clearly see the future and have set their sights in the right direction,” commented Pradip Banerjee*, partner in Andersen Consulting’s pharmaceutical industry practice. “But they are missing the full scope of the internet’s impact: by 2005, new technologies will enable the industry to double its output in half the time and at half the current cost.”
While respondents agree on the opportunities that technology offers (80% believe it will result in shorter time-to-market and 68 percent believe it will lower the development costs of new drugs), the research uncovered a number of barriers to optimizing technology. For example:
• A high percentage of interviewees (82%) report that concern about the security of proprietary information is a key barrier to adopting new technologies
• More than half (58%) see regulatory concerns about patient confidentiality as important barriers to adopting eR&D
• Forty-four percent agree that budget and/or staffing issues are a obstacle
• Almost half of the interviewees (44%) agree that internet technologies sometimes create more problems than they solve
“The major pharmaceutical companies must break down these barriers and adopt the tools and techniques that will enhance R&D,” said Banerjee. “Unless this happens, technology will bring no added business value to R&D.”
The eR&D Survey, conducted via personal interviews with R&D managers and IT professionals at pharmaceutical companies in five countries with $500 million to $1+ billion in sales, reports on current internet usage that, according to Banerjee, “brushes only the tip of the iceberg.”
“It is imperative for pharmaceutical companies to adopt and adapt internet-based technologies quickly,” he said. “The full power of web technologies will expand a firm’s competitive advantage and radically transform the way the industry creates, collects and manages information. This will result in new and better scientific insights that will lead to revolutionary therapies. There has never been a better or more important time to adopt technology for R&D. To do otherwise is to court stagnation.”
Andersen Consulting Andersen Consulting is an $8.9 billion global management and technology consulting organization. The organization employs approximately 65,000 people in 48 countries.
* Dr Pradip Banerjee is the author of a white paper, “R&D and the Internet”, which is available upon request.