IT industry set to benefit from global life science solution spending

Monday, 22 March, 2010

The global life science industry is forecast to spend nearly $17 billion on commercial IT solutions this year (2010) as it seeks to address issues blighting the sector, according to independent technology analyst, Ovum. This presents a massive opportunity for IT providers to move into a sector far behind other industries in the adoption of commercial IT solutions.

The life science sector is going through a fundamental change as patents expire on blockbuster drugs and government regulations continue to tighten. This is resulting in decreasing sales and pressure to fill diminishing product development pipelines, leading to senior executives becoming more open minded about commercial IT solutions as they seek to streamline processes and increase R&D productivity. However, without industry background or knowledge, it can be difficult for technology vendors to enter this uniquely conservative and complex market.

Ruchi Mallya, pharmaceutical technology analyst at Ovum, comments: “The failure of many IT applications in the past has left key decision-makers very wary in a secretive industry still reliant on paper-based, manual workflows.

“Yet with R&D costs spiralling out of control, they’re having to rethink. Issues include: paper-based systems for extensive clinical trials for a single drug costing upwards of $500,000 in correcting data entry mistakes alone; departments operating in silos using different systems and procedures with no standardised way of sharing information; outsourcing and moving facilities into emerging markets to reduce costs increasing the burden on datasharing and supply chain management.

“With all the challenges and obstacles that the life sciences must overcome, there are several uncertainties about the future growth of the industry. Forward-thinking executives are quickly realising that whatever the path may be, the utilisation of advanced commercial IT solutions is a must to get through these turbulent times,” concludes Ruchi Mallya.

Several key factors are pushing the industry towards IT and away from its paper-based culture:

  • Increased collaboration - R&D operations tend to operate in silos across organisations, making it very difficult to share knowledge. Tools to aid the sharing of information and increased collaboration, such as laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and e-notebooks will be immensely valuable.
  • Electronic data capture - One of the biggest inefficiencies is the paper-based system for clinical trials, with upwards of $500,000 spent on correcting data entry errors. It is therefore easy to see why companies may turn to automation and electronic data capture.
  • Data management - Robust data management systems are necessary to aid researchers currently mining non-standardised structured and unstructured information existing in a variety of languages and formats.
  • Increased transparency - It is imperative that IT solutions are implemented that add value to outsourced and relocated operations in emerging markets and ensure greater transparency to executives and regulators.
  • Secure content management - Companies need to invest in robust technology solutions, such as data and content management solutions, in order to share data with partners easily and securely.


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