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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Big Data, a Bullshit Course, & the March for Science

Big Data, a Bullshit Course, & the March for Science | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Tired of alternative facts, fake news, and breathless hyperbole, two professors at the University of Washington are trying to strike a blow for science.

 

Their weapon? A new course: “Calling Bullshit In the Age of Big Data.”; http://callingbullshit.org/index.html

 

The class website and colorful syllabus went online last month and almost instantly went viral.

 

“We woke up the next morning to chaos. We had 20,000 visitors, our mailboxes were full, we were getting book offers,” said Carl Bergstrom, a biologist who helped create the course.

 

Bergstrom’s teaching partner, Jevin West, an assistant professor in UW’s Information School, put it this way: “We just struck a nerve.”

 

Though the course will be held on UW’s Seattle campus — capped at 160 students, it filled in the first minute of online registration — the materials are available free online. Lectures are expected to be posted as well.

 

“What I’m finding among scientists is an uneasiness that goes back years, even decades, about an eroding appreciation of science, how it works, and how it’s incorporated into our society. And it seems to be in a crescendo right now,” physicist Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told STAT earlier this week (read “AAAS Should Formally Endorse March for Science”; http://sco.lt/5vcptp).

 

Scientists around the world are even organizing a series of marches on Earth Day in April, which they’re billing as “a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.”

 

[Read: “Go Boldly! March for Science!”; http://sco.lt/8TdiaH]

 

In Seattle, the professors hope to do their part by dissecting case studies — or, as they call it, “bullshit in the wild” — to demonstrate how scientific data can be manipulated to mislead the public. Examples include a Fox News report on food stamp fraud; the professors promise to explain “how Fermi estimation can cut through bullshit like a hot knife through butter.”

 

The duo has fielded many requests from other institutions who want to create their own courses using the material. In the name of scientific literacy and a reasoned populace, they are more than happy to share. “No copyright. No trademark. Use it. Take it. Run with it,” West said.

 

They’ve been pleasantly surprised to see an upswell of interest from high school and middle school teachers, too.

 

Many have asked if the course is a response to President Donald Trump, who has dismissed evidence of vaccine safety and called climate change a hoax. But the course was in the works long before the election. And while Bergstrom makes no secret of his disdain for Trump on his Twitter feed, he wants the course to remain apolitical. He promises to attack misrepresentations of science coming from politicians of any stripe.

 

“We need a citizenry that’s more informed and has the ability to call bullshit,” West said. “That’s good for everyone.”

 

 

Pharma Guy's insight:

Further Reading: “Is Pharma Marketing a Lot of BS?”; http://sco.lt/8RAgvx

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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 Big Data Analytics Help Pharma Deliver "Patient-Centric" Services?

Can Big Data Analytics Help Pharma Deliver "Patient-Centric" Services? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The changing economic, regulatory, technological and healthcare environment has given rise to a strategic shift from product and physician-centric strategies to a ‘patient centric’ approach, reflecting how healthcare decision-making has changed in recent years.


In a recent report, Thomson Reuters highlighted that in the pharmaceutical sector, after drug discovery and market knowledge, understanding the patient better is set to be the next big opportunity for big data analytics.


Patients are no longer just passive players in the healthcare system. They are becoming more knowledgeable about their conditions and the medical options available to them, and are taking greater control of their own treatment. This process of empowerment has led to patients developing their own brand and product preferences, and presents pharmaceutical companies with a new audience to cater for. In order to achieve a high level of patient centricity, understanding patients’ needs is fundamental, and this can only be achieved by ‘deep-diving’ into ever-growing amounts of patient data.


The importance of patient centricity

Patient centricity focuses on the understanding of patients’ needs in the context of the state of their condition and experiences within the healthcare system. This means putting the patient at the heart of every business decision in order to develop and provide solutions based on an in-depth, all-round knowledge of the patient.


To implement a truly patient-centric model, it is crucial to understand the complex journey through the healthcare system and explore how patients’ experiences at each stage of this journey can be enhanced. Making this concept a reality is not as hard as it may sound. Every patient interaction generates reams of structured and unstructured data.


With the right combination of big data tools, skills and platforms, pharmaceutical companies can harness this data and generate actionable insights. In turn, these will go a long ways towards identifying patient preferences and formulating future strategies.

Pharma Guy's insight:


It is possible to be TOO patient-centric. Let me explain...

Suppose, for example, that a pharmaceutical company has an Rx coupon that reimburses patients for the co-payment made when filling a prescription for their product. This is a common practice. In return, patients provide some personal information -- name, physical address, email address, etc -- when applying for the coupon. With this information -- and permission from the patient -- the pharma company can send the patient notices and further offers via US postal mail or email.

This could be considered patient-centric if it goes above and beyond sending the patient promotional pieces and if social media is brought into the picture.

With the personal information mentioned above, it is possible to find patients on Twitter and Facebook and use technology and Big Data analytics to track their conversations. Patients might even provide their Twitter and Facebook information if asked, making it even easier to track them.


A pharma company may monitor individual patient conversations to determine if a patient is engaging in a lifestyle that counteracts the effect of the company's drug. A Chantix patient, for example, may admit to smoking a cigarette. The pharma company (I won't mention names) could remind the patient -- via private channels such as email, which it collected via the couponing program -- that smoking while on Chantix is not recommended.

Now that would be patient-centric -- maybe TOO patient-centric.


For more on this, read Being Too "Patient-Centric": Spying on Patients on Social Media

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Marketers Must Understand & Integrate Big Data Using Technology or Risk Extinction

Marketers Must Understand & Integrate Big Data Using Technology or Risk Extinction | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it
Data has become a critical part of marketers' strategies, and they're adopting new technology to manage it all. Thanks to today's cross-channel consumer, integrating these tools is necessary. According to recent research, if marketers succeed at combining technologies to understand big data, they can transform their entire enterprise. If they can't, they risk extinction.
Pharma Guy's insight:


"Multichannel pharma marketing [see PMN glossary definition: MCM] is conceptually relatively simple to understand, but incredibly difficult in practice," says Len Starnes, former Head of Digital Marketing & Sales, General Medicine at Bayer Schering Pharma.


The "difficult" part of MCM: data collection and management (propeller head stuff) such as:

  • Managing and analysing vast amounts of data
  • How can pharma utilise data to enhance strategic marketing?
  • Using big data to integrate multiple sourced customer information and improve quality of customer engagement

In my mind, pharma marketers are "old school", meaning they believe marketing is more of an art than a science (see, for example, "Are Marketers Artists or Mathematicians?").

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IBM Creates Watson Health to Analyze Medical Data: Focus is on Hips & Diabetes

IBM Creates Watson Health to Analyze Medical Data: Focus is on Hips & Diabetes | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

IBM is taking its Watson artificial-intelligence technology into health care in a big way with industry partners, a pair of acquisitions and an ambitious agenda.


The initial three industry partners are Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic. On Monday afternoon, after the close of stock trading, IBM also announced it would buy two start-ups: Explorys, a spin-off from the Cleveland Clinic whose data on 50 million patients is used to spot patterns in diseases, treatments and outcomes; and Phytel, a Dallas maker of software to manage patient care and reduce readmission rates to hospitals.


The IBM plan, put simply, is that its Watson technology will be a cloud-based service that taps vast stores of health data and delivers tailored insights to hospitals, physicians, insurers, researchers and potentially even individual patients.


“We’re going to enable personalized health care on a huge scale,” said John E. Kelly, a senior vice president who oversees IBM’s research labs and new initiatives.


IBM’s broad vision of combining and analyzing health data from varied sources to improve care has been around for decades. But the company and its partners say that technology, economics and policy changes are coming together to improve the odds of making the IBM venture a workable reality. They point to improvements in artificial intelligence, low-cost cloud computing and health policy that will reward keeping patients healthy instead of the fee-for-service model in which more treatments and procedures mean more revenue.


“Forces in health care are aligning as never before,” said Sandra E. Peterson, a group worldwide chairman at Johnson & Johnson in charge of information technology and new wellness programs. “It could be a unique moment and something like this could have real legs.”


A focus of the Johnson & Johnson partnership with IBM will be improving patient care before and after knee and hip replacements. The company will apply Watson technology to data sources ranging from patient records to digital fitness devices and smartphone applications, which can monitor movement and vital signs. “It will allow us to do much more integrated, personalized care,” Ms. Peterson said.


Medtronic, a large medical equipment maker, wants to use data intelligently to treat diabetes patients beyond providing them with its glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Medtronic devices are already digital and produce a lot of data, but the company plans to use the Watson software to spot patients trending toward trouble and automatically adjust insulin doses and send alerts to care providers and the patients themselves.


“The goal is dynamic, personalized care plans so you can delay or stop the progression of diabetes,” said Hooman Hakami, executive vice president in charge of Medtronic’s diabetes group.

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How Pfizer Is Using Big Data To Power Patient Care: Is It Too Invasive?

How Pfizer Is Using Big Data To Power Patient Care: Is It Too Invasive? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Guest post by: eno Germano

Group President, Global Innovative Pharma Business, Pfizer


We all know, earlier is better when it comes to detecting diseases like cancer or diabetes because we have a better chance to fight back. In the near-term, combining real world data, will help with better and earlier diagnosis and treatment. Mid-term, this will help companies to better and more quickly identify medicines that will be safe and effective, thereby offering patients more personalized options. And in the long run, as diagnosis and treatment move earlier and earlier with the potential for mainstream use of sophisticated sensoring devices, such as the nano pill that Google is working on, we will see a shift toward more preventive and continuous care versus today’s paradigm of acute and episodic care.


Through digital information, it’s possible to offer supportive health information when we are open to making positive changes, like quitting smoking. Only five percent of unaided quit attempts are successful, yet quitting is one of the best things people can do for their health. Through information, we can more effectively reach people when they are ready to change, engage the support of friends and family, and connect them to the guidance of a healthcare professional, a relationship shown to double quit success rates. [Ed. note: Pfizer sells a smoking cessation drug, Chantix.] All this can happen outside the doctor’s office today.

Pharma Guy's insight:


The last paragraph is interesting because I envisioned this scenario in a Pharma Marketing Blog post: 


"Publicly or commercially available information is defined as information that an individual makes or permits to be made available to the public, or is legally available through an independent list broker or other third party, and/or is legally obtained and accessed from, amongst other sources: government records that are available to the public, journalistic reports, or information that is required by law to be available. We may collect publicly available information or purchase commercially available information about you from third parties."


Let's assume a pharma company wants to use "commercially available information" -- or information collected via a coupon campaign -- to be truly patient-centric and to send out customized promotional or other types of messages based on what they have learned about individual patients.

A pharma company may monitor individual patient conversations to determine if a patient is engaging in a lifestyle that counteracts the effect of the company's drug. A Chantix patient, for example, may admit to smoking a cigarette. The pharma company (I won't mention names) could remind the patient -- via private channels such as email, which it collected via the couponing program -- that smoking while on Chantix is not recommended.

Now that would be patient-centric -- maybe TOO patient-centric.

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Human Intuition vs. Big Data in Marketing. Which is the Future?

Human Intuition vs. Big Data in Marketing. Which is the Future? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Great marketers have great guts.  Leo Burnett didn’t need a legion of focus groups to come up with the Marlboro Man.  Steve Jobs, arguably the greatest marketing mind ever, famously eschewed market research because he didn’t think customers knew what they wanted until he showed it to them.


Yet big data and technology are clearly revolutionizing marketing.  Gartner predicts that CMO’s will soon be spending more on IT than CIO’s.  VentureBeat recently reported that marketing technology companies have attracted a hefty $50 billion in investment.


In Blink, author Malcolm Gladwell argued that snap judgments are often superior to studied, rational responses and there is a wealth of serious research that supports that view.  Antonio Damasio, a prominent neuroscientist, has shown that our biological response to information can often outpace our neurological recognition.  In other words, gut feelings are very real.


However, there is also evidence that shows that intuition can lead us astray. Philip Tetlock, who conducted a 20 year study of political pundits, found that their judgments were no more accurate than flipping a coin.

Pharma Guy's insight:


In my mind, pharma marketers are "old school", meaning they believe marketing is more of an art than a science (see, for example, "Are Marketers Artists or Mathematicians?").

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