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November 30, 2021updated 25 Nov 2021 4:31pm

Filings buzz: tracking cybersecurity mentions in pharmaceuticals

Mentions of cybersecurity in the pharmaceutical industry fell 34% between the first and second quarters of 2021.

By Andrew Hillman

Mentions of cybersecurity within the filings of companies in the pharmaceutical industry fell 34% between the first and second quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity between July 2020 and June 2021 was 105% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.

When pharmaceutical companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Cybersecurity is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.

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Filings buzz: tracking cybersecurity mentions in pharmaceuticals

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To assess whether cybersecurity is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of pharmaceutical companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 90% compared to 80% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.

Of the 40 biggest employers in the pharmaceutical industry, PRA Health Sciences Inc was the company which referred to cybersecurity the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 54 cybersecurity-related sentences in the United States-based company's filings - 1.2% of all sentences. Laboratory Corp of America Holdings mentioned cybersecurity the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.8% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included IQVIA Holdings Inc, Amgen Inc and Syneos Health Inc.

Across all pharmaceutical companies the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from Denali Therapeutics Inc. Of the document's 1,216 sentences, 28 (2.3%) referred to cybersecurity.

This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity and how important the issue is considered within the pharmaceutical industry, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning cybersecurity more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into cybersecurity have been successes or failures.

GlobalData also categorises cybersecurity mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'data security', which made up 90% of all cybersecurity subtheme mentions by pharmaceutical companies.

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