Drug firms can mine these chains' data for a fee


Nine pharmacy chains joined Cardinal Health to launch ArcLight Systems, a real time Rx data mining company.



Drug firms can mine these chains' data for a fee

Nine pharmacy chains have joined Cardinal Health to launch a prescription drug data mining company that gives pharmaceutical manufacturers real-time marketing and sales information gleaned from the nearly one billion prescriptions they fill annually.

ArcLight Systems, LLC, has unveiled RxealTime, an Rx data mining service that lets clients tap into a continuous stream of information updated every 10 minutes, instead of weeks later, according to officials of the venture based in Dublin, Ohio, and Paradise Valley, Calif. The five managing partners are Albertson's Inc., CVS Corp., Kmart Corp., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in addition to Cardinal Health.

Additional founding equity partners include regional chains Duane Reade, Happy Harry's Inc., Kerr Drug, Lewis Drug, and May Drug Stores. While all the partners will contribute Rx data, CVS and Cardinal also contributed capital, technology, and employees. The firm is actively pursuing additional chain partners.

RxealTime lets pharmaceutical manufacturers track the impact of new product launches, competitors' product launches, drugs going generic, fresh marketing campaigns, new product positioning, or new indications. Data can be sliced and diced by demographics, such as age, sex, and region, for insights into Rx sales patterns. The annual $300,000 subscription fee gives the client full access to all the data.

"The key advantage ... is the ability to track on a real-time basis the positive or negative impacts of market events," said CEO Thomas Ludlam, former president of Bristol-Myers Squibb's oncology therapeutics network.

Compared with the usual 30- to 60-day lag time, RxealTime data are fast, and available on-line 24/7, said COO Fritz Krieger, former general manager of Cardinal Health Information Companies. There's even a ticker-tape option that tracks specified drugs across the bottom of the computer screen. Traditional Rx data delivery "is akin to asking an airline pilot to take off and climb to 30,000 feet when the instrument panel is telling her she's still at the gate," he said. "The faster we can provide feedback on the effectiveness of marketing programs, the faster manufacturers can make mid-course corrections."

Maximizing the value of their Rx data is the payoff for the chain partners, Krieger said. "Most of these chains, with the exception of Wal-Mart, de-identify and sell their data to IMS and NDC, but we think there's room in this marketplace for expansion. RxealTime creates another revenue stream, and, maybe as important, it gives the chains better control over their data through an ownership position where they decide on how their data are deployed and used. We have exclusivity on the data for the first week of its life, but the partners are then free to do whatever they like with it, which includes selling it."

Currently in beta testing with 13 pharmaceutical manufacturers, RxealTime will be up and running in October with a full complement of data, Krieger said. He emphasized that all the aggregate Rx data have been stripped of any patient identifiers by the individual chains before they are sent to RxealTime.

Carol Ukens


Carol Ukens. Drug firms can mine these chains' data for a fee.

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