Report: Pharma is missing a Big Data opportunity by ignoring social media

Inherent conservatism and a lack of regulatory guidance have caused pharma to edge slowly onto social media platforms. While such reticence is understandable, patients still talk about their health online. The question is, should drugmakers be listening?

Many companies have closed their eyes to social media, in part to avoid potentially having to report any adverse events they see discussed online. IMS Health has picked apart the flaws of this strategy of willful ignorance in a new report that details how and why companies should tap into the social media data stream. By ignoring the information shared by patients, companies are failing to exploit a source of qualitative real-world data on their drugs and unmet medical needs.

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If companies can establish the technical capabilities to collate and mine the data, it could prove a useful addition to other sources of information on the efficacy and side effects of their products. Technology vendors--including IMS--are lining up to help with this work. IMS expanded into social media listening last year through the acquisition of Semantelli but faces competition from the likes of Treato, Liquid Grids and Radian6.

Each promises to automate aspects of social media monitoring and analysis to cut the burden on pharma companies. The IMS report suggests the industry needs the help. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) tops the IMS social media engagement index with a score of 70. After J&J there is a huge gap back to GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) in second place. GSK scored just 25 but still outranked the rest of the industry.

- here's FiercePharma's take
- read the IMS Health press release

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