Big pharma exploring Apple ResearchKit integration in for-profit efforts

in iPhone edited July 2015
Two pharmaceutical titans, GlaxoSmithKline and Purdue Pharma, are looking for ways to implement Apple's open-source ResearchKit framework into clinical testing and research and development operations, a report said Thursday.

Use of ResearchKit has so far been limited to non-profit scientific studies, but big pharma is starting to take notice of the research tool's data harvesting potential, BuzzFeed reports. GlaxoSmithKline, for example, is "currently working on integrating (ResearchKit) into clinical trials and planning to start in coming months," while OxyContin developer Purdue Pharma is said to be mulling R&D integration, as well.

"We know that all these changes in tech are going to impact health care, but we don't know exactly how," said Purdue Pharma VP and CIO Larry Pickett Jr. "People have been talking about it for a long time, but haven't been able to figure out how to leverage that data and take advantage of it. My team views ResearchKit as a very significant milestone in being able to move that capability ahead."

The company has vetted the platform, but hasn't yet decided to build an app or determined what type of data it would collect.

Announced in March, ResearchKit offers medical researchers access to advanced sensor and communications suites on iPhone -- and more recently to iPad -- to exponentially expand data collection pools. Study candidates can enroll in trials directly from their device and participate either through in-app responses, automatic readings from iPhone sensors or collation of data from HealthKit and HealthKit-compatible devices. Data can then be submitted automatically, and anonymously, to ensure fast and secure processing.

With more than 700 million iPhones in circulation, researchers get to tap into an enormous existing data resource. For example, a Stanford University study saw more than 10,000 candidates enroll in a cardiovascular study shortly after its announcement. Apple SVP of Operations Jeff Williams later said the first ResearchKit programs are now harvesting data from more than 75,000 participants.

GlaxoSmithKline and Purdue Pharma are the first major drug companies to consider ResearchKit as a viable R&D tool. BuzzFeed, however, notes the platform is not yet being considered by other firms like Gilead Sciences and Pfizer.

Apple has slowly built out support for ResearchKit, including a strategic extension to its partnership with IBM that provides secure real-time data analytics to medical professionals. Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic are also part of the initiative. More recently, rumors claimed Apple is working with scientists to roll out ResearchKit apps capable of handling DNA testing.


  • Reply 1 of 8
    kent909kent909 Posts: 731member
    Just what Big Pharma needs, another way to make profits off of sick people.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 2,295member
    Let's hope that something like ResearchKit keeps a level playing field, and prevents Big Pharma from being too heavy-handed.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    crees!crees! Posts: 501member
    I have an idea. How about all "big pharma's" close their doors and go out of business then everyone can stay sick. If you don't make a profit, you don't have employees, you don't have R&D, and you don't have a business. Congratulations. .
  • Reply 4 of 8
    idreyidrey Posts: 647member
    crees! wrote: »
    I have an idea. How about all "big pharma's" close their doors and go out of business then everyone can stay sick. If you don't make a profit, you don't have employees, you don't have R&D, and you don't have a business. Congratulations. .

    Survival of the fittest! I like it!
  • Reply 5 of 8
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member

    I realize the way this story is worded it is presenting an anti-"big pharma" point of view, however, if people participate in a study and are aware of the use of the information collected, then what's the difference? If the end result is a product that works better, then that's a good thing. Sorry, I'm not anti-capitalism or anti-business.

  • Reply 6 of 8
    freshh20freshh20 Posts: 20member
    I remember when SmithKline and Glaxo Welcome merged. I was in it. SK's IT department won out on the business side and dumped Apple computers, except in R&D. Now they want back in. They need something, no new drugs.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    sevenfeetsevenfeet Posts: 469member

    I've been working with "Big Pharma" and technology for many years.  It's easy to make criticism of them for their profit driven goals (who doesn't want to make money?).  But in this case, the motives for looking at things like ResearchKit are pretty simple "It's the Science, Stupid!"


    Every drug that makes it out of the lab phase (Phase I in clinical trials) has to do Phase II (limited human trials) and Phase III (larger human trials).  Every trial has a strict regimen of protocols necessary for the testing in order to get statistically significant data. The collection of that data is tedious and it takes years to collect and examine.  And it usually requires a patient to come into a research facility or take a visit from a research clinician and do this over and over again until their participation is complete.  It's very labor of the reasons why drug research is so expensive.


    ResearchKit allows for researchers to use the smart phones people already own as another data collection source.  If the protocol can be properly managed to be statistically significant, then it's another key set of data to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective.  And there is utility even after the drug is on the market in what's called "Phase IV" where you are examining potential adverse reactions to a much wider pool of patients.


    If ResearchKit can get data collected faster, cheaper, get potentially life saving medications in people's hands faster with better understood adverse reactions, what's not to like?

  • Reply 8 of 8
    chadmaticchadmatic Posts: 285member
    Why can't anybody stay in their own lane these days? Is it because they're too busy interacting with their mobile devices or because they're over-medicated??? Either way.... It's a serious problem!!!
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