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Pharma has a language of its own. A drug product is created in a deeply regulated environment, with huge investment over many years. The core strategy in brand pharma is to invest extensively in R&D, to formulate the 'right' drug in the 'right' therapeutic class, get through patenting and regulatory approval smoothly, then protect your patent for as long as you can. Each brand pharma design their own market strategy, where they choose to focus in order to maximize their ROI. The stakes are high: because investment is so high, in terms of time and money, steep risks need to be managed over a long development process. Companies aim at market exclusivity by being first to formulate a patent for an active drug ingredient. If a competitor gets their first huge loses may incur. The major strategic IT challenges for brand pharma is to keep an eye for market changers such as new medical/pharmaceutical research, revisions in existing drug uses (ATC), re-surfacing drugs, regulatory changes, and keeping an eye on the competitive landscape.

Generic pharma strategy starts by finding soon to expire drug patents and attacking them as fast as possible. R&D and regulatory investments in generic pharma are considerably lower than brand pharma. The strategic objective is to create the most competitive product portfolio, to maximize market penetration and coverage. Regulatory incentives to encourage generic pharma investments (.i.e. for drug price reduction) causes the generic market to be highly competitive with major players racing to be first to file (US) and win the largest incentives and market share. The major challenges for Generics is maintaining the most competitive and profitable product portfolio. Wisely manage inventory to meet market demands. (Margins are considerably lower than in ethical market, efficiency is crucial). International generic pharma companies need to optimize their purchasing and supply chain on the one hand, and be very competitive in their market coverage and penetration.

Health expenditure for OECD countries in 2011 stands on an average of 9.5% of GDP (Source). Behind this staggering sum is a vibrant fascinating industry committed to provide best possible health services to people. Operating within the bounds of public financing and policy, health insurance companies as profit centers, and private funding constraints the economics of the health industry is complex and challenging. Achieving operational efficiency is the lifeline of any organization operating in such a complex environment. Information systems provide for more efficient patient management through electronic health records (EHR). IT also offers supply chain optimization taking into consideration the regulatory and clinical constraints. In the health care industry, creating shareholder value means achieving the best possible health care service for patient. This is often a very challenging compromise prone process. 'Compromise' often means compromise patients health and care. Thus, innovation and creative problem solving are key to achieve the best possible solutions. It is both a business challenge and an ethical demand.

Pooling the funds of many, to pay for the losses of few [and make a healthy profit]. Insurance business is about partaking in a client's risks for a premium. Insurance companies use probability and actuarial models to offer their clients reimbursement in case losses do occur. The challenge of profitability lies in calculating risk vs. premiums in the underwriting process offered to clients. Insurance companies deal with an intangible: Risk. Thus, they are IT rich environments performing complex statistical modeling. A special case where Information systems can provide insurance companies with a strategic advantage is risk-intelligence. It is not the average these companies need to look out for. The average is covered in the statistical model. It is the exceptional that should stand out and inform. Risk intelligence systems provide these companies with real-time news & indicators for changes in the risk landscape.

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