Mentions of cybersecurity within the filings of companies in the pharmaceutical industry rose 38% between the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity during 2021 was 171% 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.

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 87% compared to 77% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.

Of the 50 biggest employers in the pharmaceutical industry, PRA was the company which referred to cybersecurity the most during 2021. GlobalData identified 29 cybersecurity-related sentences in the United States-based company's filings - 1.4% of all sentences. LabCorp mentioned cybersecurity the second most - the issue was referred to in 1% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included IQVIA, Syneos Health and Amgen.

Across all pharmaceutical companies the filing published in the fourth quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from Deciphera Pharmaceuticals. Of the document's 1,212 sentences, 40 (3.3%) 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.

In the last quarter, pharmaceutical companies based in the United States were most likely to mention cybersecurity with 0.8% of sentences in company filings referring to the issue. In contrast, companies with their headquarters in Asia mentioned cybersecurity in just 0.08% of sentences.