Big Data: New ally of pharmaceutical industry?

Since the 1990s, the emergence of “the internet of individuals” has led our society towards a 4th industrial revolution, which continues since 2000 with “the Internet of Things“. The appearance of mobile media, the boom of connected objects and the development of Big Data have changed many sectors.


In this context of digital evolution, the pharmaceutical industry is forced to rethink its traditional model by using new technologies and integrating new work tools, mainly digital, to fundamentally improve its performance. Despite its constant domination on the health market, the rules of the game have changed.

Far from the medical field, Big Data impacts today virtually every sector (automotive, financial, marketing, etc.). Based on 3 major pillars (volume, speed and variety), Big Data is defined as a quantity of digital data, formats and variable sources, generally unstructured (e-mails, photos, videos, data from social networks and connected objects, GPS signals, etc.), which can be processed, unlike structured data, by conventional database management tools.

By leveraging the power of health data and targeting new medical uses, Big Data could make it possible to wisely exploit untapped data and establish correlations that are not possible for the human brain. Shaping a digital transformation in the pharmaceutical’s field will lead to a new medicine, at the same time predictive, preventive, personalized and participative (called “medicine of 4P”).

Courtesy of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.

To stay in the race, the pharmaceutical industries must have an excellent ability to analyse, interpret and convert this data into information and information into knowledge and profit. The data will become an integral part of the health’s world strategy; that they will have to value, financially and commercially. Indeed, the pharmaceutical industries have so far mainly focused on the marketing of products called “blockbusters” (like Tagamet or Lipotor). For over a decade, the blockbuster’s patents are falling into the public domain.

The uses of Big Data in the pharmaceutical sector are significant and varied. Developing personalized medicine, individually supporting patients with connected objects and applications, optimizing and reducing the risk of clinical trials, developing genomics and DNA sequencing – this is what Big Data predicts.

On November 13, 2017, the US Food and drug administration (FDA) approved the launch on the market of the first “connected drug”, Abilify MyCite, indicated for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Developed by the Japanese laboratory Otsuka, this medicine has a sensor that signals when it has been ingested by the patient. We are therefore at the dawn of many medical advances …

But everything isn’t that simple: adapting to Big Data’s challenges for pharmaceutical industries will require to answer in a clear and indisputable manner to new questions, with economic, legal, technological, organizational but also ethical issues.

A propos de Camille MINEUR

Depuis toujours passionnée par la lecture et le droit, et en même temps jamais bien loin d'une connexion internet, allier travail et passion m'a naturellement dirigé vers le droit des nouvelles technologies. Avec une petite préférence pour la protection des données personnelles ainsi que les contrats informatiques.

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