IMS Health acquires social media analytics startup Semantelli

IMS Health has purchased Semantelli, a software startup whose technology reduces the risk of social media engagement for pharma companies. Drugmakers have tiptoed in the wild realm of the social web over fears about regulatory snafus and compliance headaches. Semantelli has helped pharma companies with those worries and has been rewarded.

Danbury, CT-based IMS has scooped up Semantelli for an undisclosed sum. Though he couldn't divulge financial details of the deal, an upbeat Semantelli CEO Siva Nadarajah told FierceBiotech IT that he was excited for his three-year-old company with 17 employees to become part of IMS, which is one of the world's largest providers of data and tech to the healthcare industry. His Bridgewater, NJ-based group will move into an IMS office in Parsippany, NJ, where the crew from Semantelli will provide the company's products as part of a growing social media and analytics business at IMS.

Semantelli brings IMS its flagship software dubbed "AETracker," which pharma companies can use to monitor adverse events info that crops up across the web and on popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Drug safety groups from 10 pharma companies have certified Semantelli's web-based software for use, Nadarajah said, and his company operates a support center around the clock that can handle adverse event reporting for its customers.

"With adverse events tracking we help [pharma] companies run social media initiatives. So let's say a company launches a Facebook page," Nadarajah told FierceBiotechIT. "Basically we become the insurance policy for them to run it. Because without these monitoring exercises, they can't [maintain compliance]."

The company's tech has also helped marketing groups in pharma mine their internal customer-relationship management (CRM) systems for data trends that could be useful in promoting products. The company also sells software that companies can use to aggregate doctors' content from public websites, including hospital Facebook pages, blogs and Twitter, to nail down what interests physicians. This helps pharma groups hone their messages to doctors. 

"Social media has become an integral part of the healthcare experience, and navigating this channel effectively to unlock the right information for making decisions is critical," stated Stefan Linn, IMS's senior vice president, strategy & global pharmaceutical solutions.

Nadarajah and three of his business partners funded Semantelli without money from venture firms, he said. Yet VC outfits have taken an interest in social media analytics in healthcare. Last month, for instance, social analytics outfit Treato reeled in a $14.5 million round from major healthcare investors such as OrbiMed, New Leaf Venture Partners and Reed Elsevier Ventures.

- here's the IMS release