Drug companies increase spend on mobile and online media by nearly 80%

Pharmaceutical companies across the world increased their investments in mobile phone apps and educational websites by nearly 80% last year.

According to a study by Ernst & Young, drug companies including Merck & Co and Novartis AG are leading the way in what seems to be a new wave of enthusiasm towards social media and the online landscape on the part of drug companies.

In total, global pharmaceutical companies started 97 new projects aimed at using IT to improve the quality of patient health. By comparison, 124 project had been started in the four previous years altogether, representing a massive leap forwards for development this year.

Just over 41% of this year’s projects were apps for smartphones – an increase from 11% since 2006.

Experts say that the move is partially due to the increased pressure that pharmaceutical companies are under from governments to prove that their products are worth their prices. Plans exist in the UK to match the prices of products to their benefits starting in 2014. This therefore calls for more involvement from patients throughout the lifecycle of a drug, from initial testing to post market surveillance – all of which can be easily and effectively facilitated via the use of social media.

Carolyn Buck Luce, global pharmaceutical leader at Ernst & Young, told one US website: “Pharma can’t exist the way they have existed; what is surprising is the pace of change.”

“The next big change in health outcomes is behavioural change, where medicines play an important part but not the only part.”

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