The Paradox of Pharmaceutical Hyperconnectivity

This is a guest post from Susan K Finston, President of Finston Consulting. Do you have a response to Susan’s post? Respond in the comments section below.

As we head into the dog days of summer I continue to reflect on the  recent DIA and BIO annual meetings held in mid-June. At both events I was surprised by the striking disparity in utilization of big data, social media and levels of hyperconnectivity by different stakeholders in the biopharmaceutical enterprise – akin to a pharmaceutical digital divide.

The DIA Annual Meeting  generally focuses more than BIO on innovative uses of digital technologies and an entire educational track is dedicated to Technology and related topics of Data, Records and [regulatory] Submissions. This year at DIA I was impressed by the effective mobilization of big data and social media by clinical contract research organizations (CROs) to improve clinical trial management.

Exhibitors at DIA were eager to showcase their mastery of big data on the Convention Floor, and CEO Doug Bain of eClinicalHealth, provided an engaging demonstration of  his company’s proprietary Clinical Trial Engagement Platform. In a nutshell,  CLINPAL utilizes big data to accelerate clinical trial initiation with improved site selection and patient recruitment, and then stays digitally connected with enrolled patients with a light touch that gains insights into the patient experience through a minimalistic digital interaction.

At the 10,000 foot level, effective use of big data and social media engagement by CROs should both improve replicability for clinical outcomes for investigational drugs and devices, for faster and more cost-effective therapies and cures.

In contrast,  it became evident through discussions at both DIA and BIO2o15  that the specialty manufacturers / suppliers segment also known as Contract Development and Manufacture Organizations (CDMOs) provides complex, sophisticated products and services with a marked disregard for Facebook and other social media, let alone big data.

Environmental Systems Corporation Cleanrooms provides one example.  ESC Cleanrooms brought a sophisticated cleanroom to connect with clients on the BIO Convention Floor, yet discounts the value of social media like Facebook for business development.


Posing above with Vernon Solomon, President of ESC Cleantrooms, Dina Iezzi, Director for Marketing & Special Projects for therapure Biopharma Inc., explained that CDMO segment has a long history of deep interconnectedness in the real world.  So it makes sense that these biopharma manufacturers/suppliers do  not view hyperconnectivity as an important BD or project management tool.

At least for the time being, the quantitative and qualitative advantages associated with CROs increasing reliance digital technologies for improved clinical trial management simply don’t translate into benefits for CDMOs. In this context, the pharmaceutical Digital Divide seems like more of a paradox than a true riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.  

Let me know if you agree or if you think I may be missing something.  It would be particularly interesting to learn about any CDMOs gaining competitive advantage from reliance on social media or big data.

About the author:
President of Finston Consulting LLC since 2005, Susan works with innovative biotechnology and other clients ranging from start-up to Fortune-100, providing support for legal, transactional, policy and “doing business” issues in the US and globally. Together with biotechnology pioneer Ananda Chakrabarty, she also is co-founder of Amrita Therapeutics Ltd., an emerging biopharmaceutical company based in India with peptide drugs in in vivo research. Previous experience includes 11 years in the U.S Foreign Service with overseas tours in London, Tel Aviv, and Manila and at the Department of State in Washington DC. For more information on latest presentations and publications please visit

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