Pharmacies Band Together To Share And Sell Drug Data

Technology behind venture makes it easier for drugmakers to access online data

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 3, 2001

2 Min Read

Some of the nation's largest pharmacies teamed last week to create a venture to share and sell their sales information to marketing companies and drugmakers.

The venture, ArcLight Systems LLC, includes prescription-drug retailers Albertson's, CVS, Kmart, and Wal-Mart. ArcLight will pool sales data from thousands of pharmacies nationwide with technology developed by Cardinal Health Inc., a health-care services provider in Dublin, Ohio.

The retailers already sell their sales data to companies that repackage and sell the information, and they represent one-third of the total U.S. prescription drug volume, roughly 3 billion prescriptions, says ArcLight chief operating officer Fritz Krieger. ArcLight is installed in 12,000 pharmacies. The venture, which is jointly owned by the retailers and Cardinal, plans to sell sales reports that are more timely than those currently available.

Cardinal's R(x)ealTime technology is designed to capture data from pharmacy computers in real time and update a sales database every 10 minutes. Cardinal also will apply proprietary statistical techniques to show whether specific drugs are selling better in some parts of the country, says Krieger, who wouldn't disclose the cost of the system.

It's also expected to speed the filling of prescriptions and the transmission of claims to insurance companies. "ArcLight lets CVS communicate more efficiently with third-party insurers if they're ArcLight subscribers," says a CVS spokesman.

ArcLight is also designed to protect patient privacy and doesn't link drug data with individual patients, the company says. The system has been installed at 13 big drugmakers and will be available with a full database in the fourth quarter. ArcLight customers, primarily pharmaceutical manufacturers, will pay a subscription fee for access to the online service. Krieger says major drugmakers spend between $12 million and $25 million annually for sales data worldwide.

Retailers Duane Reade, Harry's, Kerr Drug, Lewis Drug, and May's Drug Stores are also partners in ArcLight.

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