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Pharma's Winning Innovative Technology


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-05-01-2012
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Highlighting the companies awarded for exemplifying a high level of operational excellence with technology.

The ABBI (A Better Business Intelligence) might not elicit the oohs and ahhs heard at the unveiling of the futuristic 3D smart TV at this year's Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. But ABBI, an enterprise data warehouse and analytics delivery system (incorporating social media and collaborative technologies), is also innovative, and very smart.

Last year it won a coveted Chief Information Officer (CIO) 100 award for Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals for demonstrating excellence and achievement not only in information technology that creates value, but also for exemplifying a high level of operational excellence.

"In the simplest terms, it is an enterprise data warehouse and analytics delivery system covering all aspects of commercial operations for Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Corporation," explains Rebecca Cotton, the company's Deputy Director, Operational Analytics.

Bayer was one of only three pharmaceutical companies, along with Teva Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer, awarded the coveted CIO 100 Award for showing ingenuity as well as pragmatism. "They are companies that take risks with new technologies as well as those that create change through sheer will and straightforward smarts," said the awardees.

The CIO 100 Award is given to 100 companies across industries annually by CXO media, a business unit of the International Data Group.

Cotton described ABBI as bringing three important technology-enabled innovations to Bayer:

» A holistic technology deployment that gently, but firmly, ushers Bayer's business user community into the world of self-empowered knowledge workers.

» A weaving of social media and collaboration technologies into the core of the service delivery, support, and documentation activities of the group.

» Application of the most leading-edge, cloud-based, outsourced business model for deploying and delivering service.

Pedigree wins

Neither does ePedigree Serialization have a sexy techie ring to it, but like the ABBI, it is both innovative, smart, and is one of the other CIO winners. The award went to Teva Pharmaceuticals (an Israeli generic drug maker), but at the very least, the ePedigree Serialization is easy to understand.

Imagine every unit (for example, a bottle), case, and pallet being assigned a unique serial number that is logged into a central database and tracked from manufacture through distribution, to purchase by customers. The ePedigree Serialization is RFID-based system designed to track its products throughout the supply chain to end-consumers, enabling full chain of custody from point of manufacture through consumer sale.

Teva's CIO Jimmy Wang told Information Week that it had been a top initiative along with "automation of our lab and manufacturing processes through the implementation of electronic lab notebooks and manufacturing execution systems. This will allow automation of the weighing and dispensing of raw materials into the drug production process."

Used by other companies (IBM, Oracle) to track counterfeit drugs, the ePedigree system required Teva to design, develop, and implement a technology strategy and business process and system that would be able to handle large volumes of data from nine different systems in an online environment. The tracking system now allows Teva to comply with FDA requirements that pharmaceutical companies provide a validated chain of custody for drug products. "The benefits of ePedigree include the ability to protect consumers by preventing counterfeit products or products that have been tampered with from entering the market. Additionally, ePedigree lets Teva know exactly where products are purchased, helping to improve visibility for better forecasting and product recalls," cited the CIO in his explanation for the award.

And how does Wang measure overall IT effectiveness? "We use the typical IT measures of scope, budget, ROI, schedule, etc.—but ultimately it's our ability to add real value and meet the needs of our business that determines if we're effective."


Pfizer's eCard, the third CIO 100 winner in the pharmaceutical category, gives patients discounts on medications and information about treatments and care in exchange for data about customers and their habits. The concept is hardly new for retail and other industries. It is not even that new for Pfizer. But Pfizer is the first pharma company to introduce it globally for loyalty programs and patient services.

Tech Trends: Today to 2014

Designed by Pfizer, the eCard was tested in the Philippines in 2009 and now is available in 15 other markets, including China. And in 2010, it launched the program in Russia.

Pfizer partners with government agencies to distribute the cards to patients through healthcare providers. Patients present the magnetic strip cards to pharmacists to receive discounts and provide usage data to doctors and to Pfizer. The flexible, centrally managed and modular technology platform that supports Pfizer's eCard program features a business-intelligence platform, a business rules engine, and support for Internet, SMS, and voice channels. With its flexible front end, Pfizer's eCard platform can be tailored to suit countries' varying eCard requirements, and can support point-of-sale systems from a variety of third-party vendors. The system's business rules engine also allows for consistent data collection and analysis within a niche market or across a global business unit.

By allowing it to offer discounts of up to 50 percent to patients on the pharmacy price, the move may help boost access to expensive drugs by making them more affordable, while increasing Pfizer's sales.

It will also allow the company to monitor when patients are not returning for regular repeat prescriptions for their medicines for long-term chronic conditions, allowing it to contact patients to remind them to take their drugs—and further boosting sales.

Some potential problems are foreseen, however. Pricing discounts could trigger concerns that they influence doctors' prescriptions, switching away from the most medically appropriate drug to a decision based on affordability. And Andrew Jack in the Financial Times points out that it breaks the traditional arms' length relationship with pharmaceutical companies, designed to limit access to confidential personal data and prevent direct marketing without an intermediary role.

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