Using Pharmaceutical Development Product Databases for Competitive Intelligence

Article excerpt

Information sources available about pharmaceutical products under development are essential for competitive intelligence, part of the heterogeneous pieces of the mosaic that contribute to forming a full, known picture of a competitor development product. The actual in-house use of commercial drug pipeline files by P-D-R (Pharma Documentation Ring) member companies demonstrates trends over the last decade. A quantitative and qualitative comparison shows the strengths and weaknesses of major commercial databases such IDdb3, Pharmaprojects, R&D Focus, and R&D Insight.

The number of new product launches in the pharmaceutical industry remains fairly static--47 in 1997 and 37 in 2001. However, the cost of research and development (R&D) is increasing at a steady 7.5 percent--and worldwide was almost $50 billion in 2001. Such high development costs, coupled with increased pressure to bring new products to market as rapidly as possible, mean that information about the R&D strategy, plans, and products of rival organizations is crucial. Pharmaceutical companies need to be aware of the activities of their competitors, and the possible impact on their work, making competitive intelligence an essential element of R&D. The driving force behind recent company acquisitions has been the ability to acquire blockbuster products, or an attractive pipeline, guaranteeing future growth. Against this backdrop, the cost of developing a new chemical entity has grown to over $800 million. In the words of Alvin Toffler in Power Shift (Bantam Books, 1991, p. 150):

As the wars for the control of information heat up, many companies have decided that they need more information about the plans, products, and profits of their adversaries. Thus, the dramatic rise of what is known as "Competitive Intelligence."

A great deal of information is freely available in the public domain. However, investigators need to know both where to look and how to validate the information. Ensuring that information is up-to-date, relevant, and reliable can be time-consuming and arduous. Take the Internet as an example: Pharmaceutical corporate Web sites appeared initially to be a useful source of free information. In the early days of the Web, CI practitioners were amazed at the naivete of companies putting sensitive information up on the Web. Times have changed. Drug pipeline information on corporate Web sites from the top 10 pharmaceutical companies is either very brief or not current (see Table 1).

Pharmaceutical companies are quite transparent about their reasons for placing minimal (and often not current) information on their corporate Web sites. The three statements below are from corporate Web sites and demonstrate the companies' wish to maintain a competitive edge.

As a disclosure of compound information is balanced by the business need to maintain competitive advantage, some compound information has not been disclosed at this time.

--From the AstraZeneca Web site

For competitive reasons, new projects in pre-clinical development have not been disclosed, and some project types may not have been identified."

--From the GlaxoSmithKline Web site

This information (on selected pharmaceuticals in late stage U.S. development) is accurate as of the date hereof to the best of the company's knowledge. Johnson & Johnson assumes no obligation to update this information.

--From the Johnson & Johnson Web site

COMPETITOR DEVELOPMENT PRODUCT DATABASES

A number of commercial competitor development product databases are available (1-3). Such databases are an important part of competitor intelligence and complement other sources of information on competitor development. These other sources include patents, conferences, "Kaffee Klatsch" networks, reports from scientific meetings, press releases, Internet sources, scientific and business publications, investor meetings and broker reports, online secondary databases, and regulatory authorities. …