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Big data, security are key investment areas for pharma industry

07 Nov 2019
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The pharmaceutical industry is looking towards big data, blockchain, cloud computing and cybersecurity as its four major investment areas for the years ahead, according to the latest survey data from GlobalData.

More than 70% of pharma executives, who have some level of responsibility with regards to the implementation of new and emerging technologies, prioritize data protection and storage solutions for their investments.

GlobalData says that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world, which means organisations must comply with many regulations across areas such as clinical trials, to manufacturing and advertising.

“Over the years, the pharmaceutical industry has seen healthcare authorities constantly imposing new regulations and compliance requirements, including the obligations to protect ever increasing amounts of sensitive, confidential data and to adhere to data protection laws and legislative requirements,” GlobalData states.

As such, businesses are aware of the risks and the requirements to protect data. Additionally, data breaches and cyber attacks are posing more issues as organisations try to stay innovative, and safe at the same time.

“Cybersecurity, cloud computing, blockchain and big data are correlated. Large data sets require the high level of security associated with data processing, transferring and storage,” explains GlobalData senior director of market research, Urte Jakimaviciute. 

Jakimaviciute points out that the dark web presents sizable markets for healthcare related health data.

“Breaking into pharmaceutical companies’ systems can expose information related to clinical trials, trade secrets, and IP associated with drug formulation processes and technologies,”

“Any cyber attack that leaks confidential information can affect not only revenues but also damage brand reputation, disrupt the supply chain, or result in litigating actions."

Jakimaviciute uses the example of pharmaceutical company Merck to illustrate how important cybersecurity needs to be within healthcare.

“The cyber attack that hit the pharma giant in June 2017 led to a disruption of Merck’s global operations, including manufacturing, research and sales. The impact on sales and remediation-related expenses between 2017 and 2018 totalled around $695 million, while net insurance recovery was only around $45 million.”

“Even though the return on investment for the technologies such as cybersecurity may be hard to calculate as it rests on hypothetical situations, skipping out on it can become the biggest expense ever.”

Pharma companies also cited social media, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, robotics, 3D printing, 5G, robotic process automation, virtual reality, and the internet of things as key investment areas.

Statistics are taken from GlobalData’s Emerging Technology Trends Survey – Pharma 2019 report.