Accenture IT fix for quality misses key point

IT consultancies and their drug company clients should take care to distinguish between bona fide data and information shortcomings that preclude insightful decisions and the pretense of IT as a fix for institutional neglect.

Data-intensive manufacturing processes and the need for more kinds of data, more accurate and timely data, and more relevant packaging for executives all help make a compelling case for IT system review, to be sure. And any such review will likely make the case for enterprise-wide systems that can help execs connect pockets of data and interpret them to business advantage better than they would have before.

"Due to a lack of integration and disparate IT systems, it is often difficult for many companies to see impending early warning signs of potential quality and compliance breaches," writes Accenture in Industry Week.

But not everyone sees it that way. "Manufacturing failures emerge from the line; quality failures emerge from the boardroom," as Donald Riker, president at healthcare industry consultancy On Point Advisors, told us earlier this month. He was talking about the J&J/McNeil quality meltdown with the repeated product recalls and consent decree.

It's difficult to imagine that more, faster or better presented data would have made much difference to J&J CEO Bill Weldon (photo), head of consumer ops Colleen Goggins, or McNeil president Peter Luther. Nor would they likely have prevented the government seizure of 33 medications from Caraco in 2009, a $24 million seizure and consent decree that same year for KV Pharma, and the 2005 raid of a GSK plant in Puerto Rico, followed by its eventual shutdown. - George Miller