Data Worth More Than Gold


Pharmaceutical companies invest millions to convince their government that their drugs will pay off

Hunger for more data and smart IT solutions is becoming more and more obvious in healthcare and pharmacology. Both public institutions and pharmaceutical companies want to know the answer to the basic question – what will pay off? This is good news for Czech data professionals and other IT specialists. The demand for their services in Prague is growing these days.

Pharmaceutical company employee – that is no longer just a chemist threading his way around the laboratory. Using data is becoming more and more important for pharmaceutical companies. One reason is the requirements of public institutions which require detailed drug efficiency analysis when setting its price and cover. That is one of the topics the Prague MSD IT Centre will look into. Comparing efficiency, not only of individual drugs but also in general of different types of treatments.

Competitive advantage

“We must react to the global demand to increase the efficiency of our solutions which is defined by the limits of healthcare spending,” says John Westby, MSD vice-president and Manager of the MSD Centre. “We believe the IT applications represent a competitive advantage because we think that if are able to put together complex data from different resources we will be able to make faster and better decisions.” When a company comes up with a new drug or when its regulated price or cover from public funds is about to change, the relevant authority requests proof of the drug’s efficiency and economic effectiveness. This happens throughout Europe. “The UK government expects proof that our product really treats the disease and that it has some benefits, including economic ones,” says Westby.

It is similar in the Czech Republic. “The State Institute for Drug Control (the Institute) gathers efficiency data on medicinal preparations in clinical practice mainly from health insurance companies and other companies. Also, cost analysis and budget impacts are mostly submitted by pharmaceutical companies,” says Lucie Šustková, the Institute spokesperson.

The Institute requests efficiency analysis in case the payment from the public health insurance is about to change or in case the company wants to expand the conditions under which the drug is covered.

Pharmaceutical companies have quickly caught on and realised that efficiency analyses are very important. In its IT centre, MSD is going to offer about 500 qualified jobs and will invest one billion Czech crowns in the first three years.

Although public institutions throughout Europe are doing their best, we can say that it is pharmaceutical companies that have the best healthcare analyses. Not only they can better use the data that are readily available, and not just because of their large investments. From the very beginning they have had more information to analyse. Apart from publicly accessible data they have huge amount of their own data from clinical trials. The main challenge is to be able to sift through the data to find the nuggets.

“We have the data from the last 50 years of chemical research and clinical trials. We can combine it with the data on real drug efficiency after their launch, from public registers, from research outside the pharmaceutical industry, and others. For example, in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes research, I could probably provide your government with an undisputable proof that if you invest a little more into diabetes treatment, you can save a lot of money because you won’t have to treat later complications,” states Westby.

According to the economist Tomáš Doležal, there is nothing wrong with having the decisions on prices and covers for drugs based on data from pharmaceutical companies. “There is nothing wrong with the company doing the work for their own money, it would just be wrong to trust the analyses completely,” says Doležal. He says that the control mechanisms the companies have introduced to catch any shifts in analyses are working, here in the Czech Republic as well.

Public authorities would also like to get a better insight into health care, to get relevant data and analyse it. Ladislav Dušek, Head of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic criticizes the current state of health care statistics. He is also looking for data specialists, among other things in cooperation with universities. And he promises big change. He plans to reach agreement with healthcare insurance companies to share their data which would fill in holes in the public statistics, as the current data is collected manually and inefficiently.

Anonymous data from the Czech healthcare insurance companies would be crucial for our understanding of the Czech healthcare. However, there is talk in Europe, that pharmaceutical companies should also make their own data from clinical trials accessible. Looking for answers to the question which medical solution is the most effective economically would then be much more simple form independent experts.•


Although public institutions throughout Europe are doing their best, we can say that it is pharmaceutical companies that have the best healthcare analyses.

About author| Adéla Čabanová,


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