They’re at it again. Ever since Veeva set up a business unit to build reference databases on prescribers, it has been in the gunsights of QuintilesIMS, whose IMS unit has maintained a customer database, now called OneKey, for years. In 2015, IMS sued Veeva over the mere naming of the latter’s service, originally called OpenKey, later changed to OpenData. In January, following what is said (on both sides) to be years of continually trying to resolve a data-access arrangement that would preserve proprietary QuintilesIMS data and methods, Quintiles filed suit in New Jersey federal court (Case No. 2:17-cv-00177) claiming theft of trade secrets, false advertising, unfair trade practices and three other counts. Now, Veeva has countersued, claiming antitrust violations and unfair competition.
To outsiders, a remarkable attribute of all this is how much value the two companies invest in customer master data—the compilation of prescribers and other healthcare professionals by address, type of practice and affiliations. Master data management (MDM)—the technology to develop, curate and analyze diverse data—is being applied with greater insights into prescribing behavior of physicians, and the business or professional affiliations they have that can sometimes dictate prescribing choices. The MDM technology puts greater value on the demographic and other qualifying data compiled by data aggregators, among them QuintilesIMS itself, MedPro Systems, Symphony Health Solutions and now Veeva. Cross-licensing is not an unusual practice (QuintilesIMS calls it “third-party access agreements,” or TPAs). QuintilesIMS acquired the data assets of Cegedim Relationship Management, including a global database called OneKey, in 2014; Veeva acquired AdvantageMS, another data vendor, in 2013, and both continue to invest in their businesses.
With existing TPAs in place with various life sciences and other clients who are also Veeva clients, QuintilesIMS alleges that Veeva has engaged in “blatant corporate theft” of data, and that by claiming its internal data-access practices are reliable (while QuintilesIMS maintains that they are not), Veeva is damaging QuintilesIMS’ relationships with its clients. Veeva counter-alleges that it does have the access protections in place, and that by prohibiting some clients from downloading QuintilesIMS data into Veeva’s MDM system, Veeva Network, QuintilesIMS is illegally “harming” competition.
By its account, Veeva says that business can emphatically go on as usual while the case winds its way through the courts, including maintaining existing TPAs and Veeva data being stored in QuintilesIMS MDM systems. “IMS has abused its position as the dominant provider of customer reference and sales data to the life sciences industry,” says Peter Gassner, Veeva CEO, asserting that “Veeva is committed to ensuring customers have the freedom to choose the software and data products that best meet their needs.” As of March 13, QuintilesIMS has not issued a statement about its January lawsuit; a 10K statement issued in February summarizing 2016 activity makes no mention of the dispute.