Sidney Taurel Goes “Open Kimono” on Pharmacovigilance

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  • 10/03/2007
During his keynote address at Cleveland Clinic's 2007 Medical Innovations Summit, Lilly CEO Sidney Taurel challenged the health-care industry, medical community and U.S. government to work more closely to bring about a "true information revolution in health care."

"The time is ripe for FDA, the health care industry, and the medical community to collaborate on a reform of our nation's pharmacovigilance system. Such reform will allow us to speed up the recognition of safety signals and understand the true efficacy of new medicines more quickly," said Taurel.

"The use of prescription medicines always will be a matter of balancing benefits and risks. Frankly, that's the first and most basic insight that needs to be understood by health-care consumers, not to mention the news media and politicians.”

"Not to mention," indeed.

"Fortunately, systems are now within our grasp to much more quickly identify both the true benefits and the full extent of risks associated with medicines in widespread use."

His call for an information overhaul comes as the national health-care system is getting increased scrutiny by patients, regulators and politicians. Nearly all of the announced 2008 presidential candidates are calling for better medical record-keeping and wider sharing of information to cut costs and improve care.

Not that anyone really understands what any of those plans are or what they say, or how they will be paid for. But that's another issue altogether.

And credit where credit is due, three years ago, Lilly became the first to disclose the results of all its clinical trials on the Internet.

Taurel singled out some groups that are swiftly moving to share health information, including the Indiana Health Information Exchange, a network used by 27 hospitals and 5,200 physicians to share the results of laboratory tests. The exchange allows physicians to see immediately whether their patients have had tests done elsewhere, and if so, what the results were, to avoid duplication and provide better care.

Lilly also is working with competitors Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson on a project to understand how to find telling information about drugs in large databases. The move comes as Lilly and other drug companies are focusing more and more on personalized medicine, trying to tailor medicines to smaller groups of patients with certain genetic predispositions or health conditions.

"Certainly, at Lilly, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on clinical trials," Taurel's speech says. "But the key insight in our situation, and I think it applies quite broadly, is that unlike most other assets, health information actually becomes more valuable the more it is used, studied and applied. It does not depreciate."

Amen Brother Sidney.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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