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IMS Health was an American enterprise whose core business involved delivering technology, services, and data to the health care sector. On its website, IMSHealth.com, the company called itself the “world's leading provider of information solutions to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.”
The acronym IMS stands for Intercontinental Medical Statistics.
Today, attempting to find IMSHealth.com comes back with a short message, “The page you requested was removed.” What could have happed to a resource that once said that it delivered services supporting more than 30 million people and 35,000 pharmaceutical sales executives in more than 90 countries?
We took some time to follow the history of IMSHealth.com. We focus on the services provided by the organization, its numerous acquisitions, and how it fought attempts to stop it from collecting data in one state. Finally, we attempt to find out what happened to it.
IMSHealth.com is captured on the internet for the first time in 1998.
IMS Health started doing business in 1954. At this time, the company was a subsidiary of Frolich Intercon International, an advertising agency based in New York owned by L.W. Frolich. The name of the company at this point was Intercontinental Marketing Services (IMS).
When IMS was established, Frolich Intercon International had discovered that there was a lack of data to help the company in doing campaigns for pharmaceutical enterprises.
Frustrated by the unavailability of data about the “wonder drugs” in vogue at this time, Frolic was joined by David Dubow to establish an organization that would focus on finding and organizing information about the pharmaceutical industry.
As technological improvements like personal computers were introduced during the 1980s, IMS Health scaled. By the 2000s, the company was providing consulting services. At this time, it had streamlined its operations and became purely an information service.
IMS Health’s initial public offering was in 1972. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange using the ticker symbol RX.
A telling article about the solution provided by IMS Health was published by Fortune.com, headlined: “This Little-Known Firm Is Getting Rich Off Your Medical Data.”
The Fortune.com article reported that “IMS buys bulk data from pharmacy chains such as CVS (CVS), doctor’s electronic record systems such as Allscripts, claims from insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and from others who handle your health information.” The data would then be anonymized and sold to drug companies.
IMS Health did not describe its business model in the same explicit terms used by the Fortune article referred to above. Below are some of the services the organization listed on IMSHealth.com:
Market Insights: The company’s market segment invited clients to “tap into the world’s largest and most diverse set of healthcare information—with global breadth and granular depth of actionable insights.”
Real-World Evidence: Clients were informed that they could build a foundation using real-world anonymized data from across the world.
IMS Health also provided healthcare technologies that helped clients manage data and compliance, analyze performance, market their products, and deliver consumer solutions.
Between 2002 and 2009, IMS Health acquired a company every year, sometimes two companies in one year. Most of the company's acquisitions were pharmaceutical consulting companies like Cambridge Pharma Consultancy (in 2002), PharMetrics (in 2005), RMBC (in 2008).
The company also build its portfolio by acquiring companies involved in business intelligence, insurance claims, software solutions, and customer relations.
In total, IMS Health made 24 acquisitions. An analysis of the companies acquired by IMS Health shows that they are distributed across different parts of the world: the US, China, and Russia. It looks like the company aimed to cover the consumer health markets of all major regions.
Along the way, IMS health was itself acquired by Texas Pacific Group (TPG) for $5 billion. It then went private. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) was also involved in the acquisition. The deal included the assumption of IMS Health’s debt.
In 2014, IMS Health went public again.
Heading To Court
In 2009, the Cato Institute reported that New Hampshire had “passed a law prohibiting the transfer of doctors’ prescription history to facilitate drug companies’ one‐on‐one marketing — a practice known as ‘detailing’ — because it believes detailing drives up brand‐name drug sales and, in turn, health care costs.” This attracted the fury of IMS Health, which took the issue to court.
In an analysis of the litigation brought to court by IMS Health, the Cato Institute argued that “the state knew that the First Amendment prevented it from banning detailing itself, so it made the practice more difficult indirectly.” It argues that data collection and transfer should be considered “protected speech” in the same way a phone book and academic research puts together its information. In a Supreme Court decision, the law was struck down.
IMS Health Merges With Quintiles
The merger was completed in October 2016. It created what IMS Health described as “one of the world's largest portfolios of healthcare information, deep therapeutic, domain, regulatory and commercial analytic expertise.” The company boasted that its “proprietary technology applications [were] supported by more than 50,000 employees operating in 100+ countries.”
Following the merger, IMS Health and Quintiles adopted a new name: Quintiles IMS.
What Then Happened To IMShealth.com?
From October 4, 2016, IMSHealth.com started carrying the message: “IMS Health has merged with Quintiles.” It looks like IMSHealth.com remained active until October 2017. Soon after, a visit to the website would redirect you to another site.
The redirect seems to have lasted until the second half of 2020. Attempts to access the site after that resulted in a blank page. By the beginning of 2021, anyone attempting to visit the website is informed that it has been removed.