Q. What are the top three questions that your helpdesk gets from users in the pharmaceutical industry? And why do you think
those are the most-asked questions?
Of the number of service requests logged in our support applications, very few actually require a software "patch." The vast
majority of issues can be resolved by more aggressive end-user training. We are attempting to integrate end-user training
with the application footprint with products such as the Oracle User Productivity Kit, a synchronized, customizable solution
that helps organizations quickly create the critical documentation, training, and support materials needed to drive project
team and user productivity throughout the life cycle of a user's software.
Q. What technology should be used more by members of the pharmaceutical industry in their 'supply-chain' business? Do you
see the 'auto replenishment' feature being used in drug making?
Understanding downstream supply chain and 'demand' more accurately is a key area of focus for the pharmaceutical industry.
Auto-replenishment (loosely called 'KanBan') is already used for various direct materials and will continue to be adopted
by the industry.
Q. What advice can you offer the pharmaceutical industry about facing the challenges of counterfeiting?
Electronic pedigrees and RFID [radio frequency identification] solutions will greatly reduce the problems of counterfeits,
grey-market sales, diversions and so on. In addition, product recalls, returns, chargebacks, and the like are all simplified
and can be sources of significant savings through the adoption of such technology.
Q. Can you talk more about how RFID is used in the pharmaceutical industry?
RFID is important from two perspectives. First, it is an efficient technology that can allow a large pallet of finished products
to be "scanned" in a single pass without having to unpack boxes and scan bottles one by one. Secondly, RFID is accurate, and
can enable supply-chain accuracy by automating supply-chain inventory information management. As the cost of RFID chips and
scanners drop, we anticipate worldwide adoption of these technologies—not just across the supply chain, but also within manufacturing
Q. How is software being used in clinical trials?
Companies are looking for a clinical platform that can manage all clinical operations in a consolidated and integrated technology
base. This is becoming even more important as companies are buying pipeline from others (or are licensing them from biotechs),
or are merging with and acquiring other companies. Because clinical operations are the vital bloodline of these companies,
it is strategically important to support this area with a comprehensive solution footprint and an overarching business intelligence
approach. Our customers are asking the software industry for a comprehensive solution footprint that includes clinical trial
management, clinical supplies management, financial management, investigator relationship management, remote data capture
and clinical data management, product safety management, and overall clinical intelligence.
Arvindh Balakrishnan is senior director of the Life Sciences Business Unit at Oracle,