San Diego Business Journal

When your customer base includes biotech, pharma, government, medical plans and insurance companies, business-wise you are in a target rich environment, and values-wise you are in position to do a lot of good.

Solana Beach-based Scientist.com plans to do both as part of its recently announced partnership with HealthEconomics.com.

Scientist.com, a top pharma marketplace for outsourced research, joins with HealthEconomics.com, which provides a global link to the health economics and outcomes research (HEOR), real-world evidence (RWE), and Market Access (MA) stakeholder communities.

Since 1993, HealthEconomics.com has provided access to drive business, improve knowledge, and connect with key customers world-wide, according to the company.

The companies have created a virtual platform that researchers working remotely can use to evaluate and purchase HEOR and RWE from hundreds of global suppliers.

Fast Growing Field

“It is really a fast growing field right now,” said Kevin Lustig, CEO and founder of Scientist.com. “What it comes down to is anyone who needs to make health care coverage decisions. Patti Peeples, CEO of HealthEconomics.com, is a pioneer in the field (health economics and outcomes research and real world evidence) for the last 20 to 25 years. The rest of us are playing catch up.”

Lustig gave an example of HEOR in action. “Because of the number of people put on ventilators, there is a tremendous amount of data around the country whether ventilators work or not and for which patients, Lustig said. “What is needed is for an HEOR expert to go in and pool all the data from hundreds of hospitals. Analyze the data. Then, go back to hospitals, give them the insight, insight that they might not have made on their own because they are small and busy or overwhelmed by COVID-19.”

Lustig said we need experts to look at the 200 clinical trials going on in COVID-19. We need people to look at all the data and determine what’s working, who is maximally benefitting from the various treatments.

Lustig said HEOR and RWE are about “getting the right treatment to the right patient faster.”

Real World Evidence

As for real world evidence (RWE), it is a must. Take COVID-19. A clinical trial could involve 10 to hundreds, lucky if it is a thousand subjects. Lustig said RWE asks what will happen when 10 million people are taking a drug. You can have a billion dollar blockbuster come out and then realize one in ten thousand people have an adverse reaction to it.” RWE is a necessity.

The AI powered marketplace and platform allow scientists, researchers and experts to work from the safety of their own homes. With the virtual marketplace, you don’t need to go anywhere. You can shelter in place.

“With the platform, you go online,” Lustig said. “You connect. You communicate, possibly follow up on phone. It is all covered in the legal agreement.

Simply, you find the expert and communicate, putting together a proposal of what exactly will be done. Then actually doing the transaction and establishing a partnership. Sometimes, there is money changing hands; sometimes there is not. It all depends what the project is.

“We get a fee if a HEOR or RWE purchase is made. We split that with HealthEconomics.com, Lustig said.

As for ensuring the legitimacy of experts, sellers, suppliers and others, there is a process.

The Ratings

“We qualify the sellers, if you will, the experts,” Lustig said. “It depends on whom you’re talking about, but they all fit into the same boat. We do a very rigorous qualification. We together with Patti (Peeples) and other experts put together an RFI, request for information, essentially a technical audit of the seller or expert. They fill that out. We evaluate that. That helps us establish a baseline of what they are an expert in, what they are certified to do, what accreditations they have.

“And then on the marketplace side, there are ratings and reviews that are put in by previous partners, buyers if you will.

“It’s like when you’re on Amazon, and you see something with a hundred reviews. You read a couple, and they seem reasonable, not fake. You are often going to choose the one with a hundred good ratings rather a something with two ratings. That is true in the science marketplaces, too. Ratings become a very important part of the puzzle.

“Finally the buyers, the pharmaceutical companies, the health companies, they have done their own due diligence and their own criteria they have established. For figuring out the quality of the sellers and what we enable them (the companies) to do is put all that information into the platform. So, you’ve got information from previous buyers. The information the companies are putting in about the seller. You got the ratings. And you got the technical audit that we work with the sellers to do. And all that information is put into the marketplace. If you’re a buyer, you have all the information in one place. The idea being that if you have all that information, you are better able to make a decision faster.”

Asked if there was a greater social science component to HEOR and RWE, Lustig said in some cases. Lustig said countries have their own criteria of what is useful to them. They may reimburse hospitals for treatment in one country but not in another.

Gaining Momentum

RWE and HEOR together are now the second biggest sales category on our marketplace. They’ve just exploded in the last five years, according to Lustig.

Scientist.com did about $210 million in sales last year, It employs 60 with 35 of those at its Solana Beach headquarters. Scientist.com says it partners include 24 of the world’s top 30 pharmaceutical organizations and 90 biotech companies.