Real-world data in life sciences: A playbook for commercial success

December 16, 2021

A new report exposes the challenges and opportunities of patient-centric data in life sciences with insights from Takeda, Novartis and Pfizer. A 2016 analysis published in the Journal of Health Economics and authored by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development placed the cost of bringing a drug to market, including post-approval research and development, at a staggering $2.87 billion. Meanwhile, a 2018 study from the Tufts Center noted that the timeline for new drug development ranged from 12.8 years for the average drug to 17.2 years for ultra-orphan drugs that only affect several hundred patients. This places the onus on life science organizations to find ways to get therapies in the hands of the right prescribers and patients faster – especially those who cannot wait 17 years for a potentially life-saving treatment. Commercializing a drug requires its developer to harness various sources of real-world data to identify patient populations and refine sales and marketing strategies for those populations (among other tasks). Traditionally, this process involves purchasing large data sets from data aggregators or data platforms, if not directly from the source itself – often with little knowledge of the quality of the data. Preparing this data for analysis is both expensive and time-consuming – so much so that it’s not uncommon for organizations to outsource the process to consultants or third-party vendors. The process also tends to yield a static analysis that is difficult to modify or rerun in response to follow-up questions or potential discrepancies. A growing number of health-data marketplaces are emerging in an effort to improve this process. Developed as open platforms that comply with privacy regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), these marketplaces offer life science organizations the opportunity to glimpse a data set before buying it, to acquire only the data sets they need to complete their analysis, and in some cases to conduct an analysis within the platform itself. Such marketplaces promise to streamline the processes of data collection, normalization, and analysis, allowing not only for faster launch but also for a nimbler approach to post-launch strategy. This can lead to higher revenue, lower costs and an increasingly data-driven approach to decision-making. It also opens the possibility for improvements to patient outcomes. To gauge the interest of life sciences organizations in health data marketplaces, Reuters Events Pharma surveyed 215 senior pharma people around the world. Below is a snapshot of respondent demographics. This report, “Real-world data in life sciences: A playbook for commercial success”,  is based on the results of an exclusive survey, secondary research, and interviews with 10 data science professionals, including Novartis, Pfizer and Takeda and health data platform industries including Datavant and Prognos about their use of data and the potential benefits of health data marketplaces.


Operating from a single central London base, Reuters Events is now one of the largest and fastest growing events companies anywhere in the world.

Reuters Events serves a diverse range of industries and places a focus on the challenges and opportunities resulting from technological and strategic innovation.