Pharmaceutical services giant Quintiles said Monday it is gaining access to a treasure trove of patient data that will lead to better-designed clinical trials of experimental drugs.
The privately held Durham-based company announced it has signed new licensing deals with medical practices and hospital systems that will give it access to “de-identified” electronic medical records data involving a total of 40 million patients. The data has had all identifying information, such as names and Social Security numbers, redacted. Financial details weren’t disclosed.
The licensing deals, which are exclusive, significantly expand the amount of patient information available to Quintiles and its customers, spokesman Phil Bridges said. Quintiles has been using such data for years but isn’t disclosing how much data it had access to previously.
“We feel like this is going to be a real differentiator for us,” Bridges said. The deals, which take effect shortly, involve mostly data from U.S. health care providers, although Quintiles anticipates adding data from other countries.
Quintiles is the world’s largest pharmaceutical services company with more than 25,000 employees worldwide, including 1,700 in the Triangle. Its headquarters along Interstate 40 is a local landmark.
Richard Kouri, executive director of biosciences management at N.C. State University, said the move could be an important step to much-needed improvement in clinical trial design.
“I’m glad to see Quintiles doing it,” Kouri said.
Quintiles also is adding a team of about 15 employees – research and analysis experts, as well as business development staffers – to help its drug industry and government customers make effective use of the data. Those new staffers will primarily work out of their homes and will be scattered across the country.
Access to “real world” data about how medicines are used and the results achieved will help drug companies do a better job of designing clinical trials, recruiting patients and managing other aspects of clinical trials, Bridges said. That, in turn, should lead to “faster, less expensive, more efficient” clinical trials, he said.
The data also is expected to benefit Quintiles’ “observational research” business, called Quintiles Outcome, which it formed last year when it acquired Massachusetts-based Outcome Sciences, a 250-employee company, for an undisclosed sum.
Observational research involves observing the decision-making process doctors use when prescribing a medication and how effective it proves to be for patients. It’s a way for drug companies to gather intelligence on competing drugs, as well as their own products, which can be invaluable in fashioning marketing pitches.
“Biopharma and governmental organizations need more clinically rich data to better evaluate the safety, effectiveness and value of health care products and services,” Richard Gliklich, president of Quintiles Outcome, said in a statement announcing the licensing deals.
In addition, once Quintiles’ researchers dive deep into the data, other uses are likely to emerge “that we haven’t even thought about,” he said.