“Despite the global financial crisis, sales of OTC medicines have continued to rise, spurred by a swath of recent innovation, greater promotion of self-medication and increased access through expanding channels of distribution. Consistently outperforming the pharmaceutical sector, the OTC market is now a key source of business expansion and competitive edge. In Europe, powerful dynamics are driving new potential for growth – in a number of mature markets, and especially in emerging Central and Eastern Europe. The outlook is good but challenges abound and identifying the best opportunities will not be easy. As the market for self-medication continues to evolve with increasing layers of complexity, companies looking to exploit its potential must prepare, assess, differentiate and execute with a new understanding of the emerging landscape and the drivers of success within it.” Andy Tisman, Senior Principal, IMS Health, 2010.

The Over-the-Counter (OTC) medicines, appears to play a significant role in global economy, as well as it opens new potentials for business expansion in Europe.  What’s more, the OTC liberalisation is one of the hot topics of the Greek crisis negotiations during this period, reinforcing in this way the importance of the OTC medicines in the pharmaceutical market, as well as to the overall country’s prosperity.

However, the OTC domain is quite challenging, due to the multiple dynamics involved, the diverse parameters to correlate, the non-availability of public data and the different formats that the data come into. These are some of the reasons that the OTC medicines liberalisation was selected for comprising the Business Intelligence Analytics (BIA) pilot of LinDA; to facilitate the assessment and shows the directions for the best exploitation of the OTC liberalisation.

During the 1st round of the BIA operation, a small subset of the overall envisaged analysis has been executed, though interesting findings have been revealed, concerning not only the OTC medicines liberalisation and the next steps of the pilot, but also the added-value of an SME from the adoption of the linked data concept and the integrated environment of the LinDA workbench.

Concerning the pilot scenario result, after the RDF-ation and interlinking of public and private datasets, through the LinDA workbench, the linear and multiple linear regression analysis has shown that the out-of-pocket expenditures is highly correlated with political indicators, such as the government effectiveness, in the European countries. Furthermore, other correlations among indicators, shows the impact that might have the GDP per capita in the out-of-pocket expenditures (OOP expenditures); an important information which can be taken into account for the success of the OTC liberalisation, in terms of governmental revenues, better social care and/or investments from industry. Having identified these critical indicators (governmental effectiveness, political stability and GDP per capita), closely related with the OOP expenditures, the execution of a k-means clustering algorithm is applied, for the partitioning of the overall observations in three clusters. The results depicted below, represent three (3) really well defined clusters with no overlapping among each other.

The first cluster refers to countries with low political stability, low governmental effectiveness and low GDP per capita that tend to have high OOP expenditures. The second cluster refers to countries with medium-to-high political stability, high governmental effectiveness and high GDP per capita that tend to have low OTC expenditures. The third cluster refers to countries with medium political stability, low governmental effectiveness and low GDP per capita that tend to have medium to low OTC expenditures. For example, Greece and Cyprus seems to belong fully to the first cluster, while Lithuania and Latvia participate partially in it, which are fruitful information on the tactics to be followed for the OTC liberalisation on these countries.




As for the added-value coming from the usage of the linked data and the LinDA workbench, it has been identified that the linked data concept could definitely assist and improve the access to more and instant information, under certain circumstances, while the usage of the LinDA workbench has proven to facilitate the SME’s current workflow, to reduce the effort required for specific tasks, in terms of time and resources and boost the provided services to new levels of completeness and sophisticated analysis and visualisations, through an easy to use, quite friendly and integrated working environment. Through the 1st round of the BIA pilot operation, the business processes are made in a faster, simplest, more effective and user friendly way, while supplementary and enhanced insights are provided to the clients, by the SME,  through the different tools of the LinDA workbench.

However, the transformation of the business data to linked data is quite time-consuming. Moreover, the non-availability of open, public data for several domains or even the need of curation of the available ones put an obstacle to the adoption of the overall concept. This includes also the mentality shifting and a quite demanding period of training that is a must for the adaptation and the incorporation of the LinDA to the current business flows. All these, along with further analysis, are envisioned to be examined during the 2nd round of the BIA pilot. The LinDA workbench has already proven its potentials and could without doubt create new business values and success stories for an SME, such as CP, where the information gathering and analysis is the backbone of the consultancy services provided.