Jan 19, 2011

IMS acquires SDI: the data firm nesting continues

The news that IMS Health is acquiring SDI (see IMS press release here) is a jolt to those of us who have worked in the pharmaceutical data industry for ten years or more.

Both companies declined to discuss the acquisition beyond a joint statement released last Friday afternoon. Unnamed company sources told Ed Silverman, who first reported the deal on his Pharmalot blog, that as much as 15% of SDI's staff could lose their jobs as a result of the acquisition.

Gary Gatyas, an IMS Health spokesperson, declined to speculate on timing for the completion of the deal, citing pre-merger notification requirements with respect to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

SDI itself was made larger by the acquisition of Verispan in 2008. Verispan was in fact a conglomerate formed by the 2002 combination of multiple data vendors like Scott-Levin, SMG, and Kelly Waldron. This reminds me of the Russian nested doll pictured here, the matryoshka.

Why have there been so many combinations in the data, and informatics consulting business? Driven in part by profitability issues, intense competition, adn the mergers of the pharmaceutical manufacturers themselves,

If this deal goes through, With this latest IMS acquisition there will come a short term hassle for major pharmceutical clients in 2011 as the landscape gets sorted out. Then longer term, there will be less competition for information sources, and perhaps slow down the rate of innovation.