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Pfizer launches trial data sharing service


  • November 25, 2013

  • Pfizer has launched a first-of-its-kind project that enables patients who have participated in clinical trials the ability to download their individual clinical data.

    Using the Blue Button standard, an initiative first launched by the White House in 2010, patients “will be empowered to use the data to improve their overall health and wellness, from sharing with healthcare providers to powering clinical risk assessments”, according to Pfizer.

    Announced at this year’s Dpharm ‘disruptive innovations’ conference in Boston, US, Pfizer’s new project comes at a time when clinical trial transparency is becoming a major issue.

    Allowing the digital sharing of data via the Blue Button is a new way forward for pharma, but falls short of allowing independent scrutiny of all study data, something being called for in the UK and Europe.

    Typically as clinical trials conclude results are posted online and published in scientific journals, but little information is routinely given back to the patient to acknowledge their contribution.

    But new data shows that over 90% of patients with access to a personally controlled health record are willing to share that data for research. Pfizer says that early results from its new project demonstrates the ability of research sponsors to engage patients in this new ecosystem, by first sharing their data with patients setting “a new standard for trust and collaboration”.

    The Blue Button is a literal button appearing on many websites that lets consumers get their health information online.

    The US Veterans Administration (VA) was first to display the Blue Button symbol on its patient portal in 2010 – it allows US military veterans the ability to click on the Blue Button icon to securely download their health information electronically.

    The VA’s definition of Blue Button specified a particular technical format (ASCII text or PDF), which enabled patients to read, print, or store their health records in a straightforward but bare bones way.

    Since then many sectors working in health in the US have begun to use this system, but Pfizer is the first pharma firm to do so. More data on the project is set to be released next year.

    Ben Adams