Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Technology Companies Use CrowdSourced Big Data to Help Develop New Drugs

Technology Companies Use CrowdSourced Big Data to Help Develop New Drugs | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

23andMe's original business model may have been thwarted by the feds, but that isn't stopping the company from trying new ways to generate revenue. Its latest idea could be a lucrative one: invent new drugs.


23andMe is sitting on a mountain of genetic data culled from the more than 800,000 people who took its genetic tests before they were pulled from the market. The idea here is to mine that massive data set for as-yet-unseen insights, which could informpharmaceutical research. The company intends to then use those insights to create entirely new drugs.


The move would be a huge shift for the company, which started out by offering $99 DNA testing kits that allowed consumers to take a closer look at their genetic profiles and better understand their overall health. That is, until November 2013, when theU.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter asking 23andMe to stop selling its saliva collection kits.


Pharmaceutical research is also an area that's ripe for disruption, and 23andMe isn't the only tech company eyeing that opportunity. Flexing the unique potential of its own computing resources, Google is now using large-scale . And the power of big data for medical research isn't lost on Apple, which just announced its crowdsourced research framework ResearchKit on Monday.

Pharma Guy's insight:


Seems like the pharma industry has been caught napping. Technology companies are leading the way in using big data to advance medical research. It's not just data from DNA kits that technology companies like Google and Apple are collecting - it's all kinds of health data gleaned from from Web searches and wearable devices (e.g., Apple Watch). BTW, Google Glass isn't one of the wearables that collect real world health data on a daily basis from millions of people. That was a mistake on Google's part in terms of creating new business. Apple is cornering that market with the Apple Watch.

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Can a SmartWatch Result in More OTC Switches?

Can a SmartWatch Result in More OTC Switches? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

At some point, one simply has to assume that the smartwatch, along with the smartphone, will be able to help drugs that are sitting behind the prescription pad to make their way to the OTC counter.  For many drugs, such as statins, the inability to monitor one’s own liver functions and cholesterol levels has meant that attempt to switch statins from RX to OTC have failed.  (I attended most, if not all of the AdComms.)  But as our technology advances and becomes more accessible, and our watches and phones stop telling us the time and making our calls in favor of providing us with ever expanding amounts of information about ourselves, at some point it is likely that the watch and the phone will help us do things that we can only do with our doctors now – and hence opening up a bit the vault of drugs that can be switched from RX to OTC.  Just “watch”.

Pharma Guy's insight:


The argument against OTC statins such as Lipitor is that these drugs can be highly toxic to the liver if not used properly and require periodic blood tests to monitor such problems.


I understand the reasoning stated above -- that "SmartWatches" may someday be able to monitor  liver functions well enough so that patients can medicate themselves.


However, will consumers pay attention to what their watches are saying? Will they understand what their watches are saying? Will their watches be accurate and not generate "false" data? 


The last is most worrisome because it could lead to expensive medical testing that is not required.

Adding to the debate is a benefit/risk analysis of statins based on a little-known but useful statistic, the number needed to treat. You can read more about that here: "The Statin Lottery: Number Needed to Treat Statistic". According to Dr. Jerome R. Hoffman, professor of clinical medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, people could do as well dieting and exercising to lower cholesterol while avoiding the cost and potential side effects of taking a statin every day. BTW, people pay out of pocket for OTC drugs that were covered by insurance when the drugs were Rx. Those costs could exceed copays.

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