“Merck KGaA plans to use analytics and machine learning to predict and prevent drug shortages, a move that could also save it money.

Currently, the Germany-based pharmaceuticals company needs to stockpile medications to make sure it has enough on hand, meaning some of them expire before they can be used. Merck said its supply-and-demand forecasts are about 85% accurate today.

To sharpen its predictions, the company’s health-care division plans to start testing a cloud-based software platform later this year. The platform, made by North Reading, Mass.-based TraceLink Inc., can analyze in real time data points from various organizations within Merck’s supply chain, including pharmacies, hospitals and wholesale distributors.

TraceLink is now developing machine-learning algorithms that will be used in the pilot, which will begin with immuno-oncology drugs, designed to boost the body’s immune system to fight cancer. “We want to start it in an area where the product is a lifesaving product,” said Alessandro DeLuca, chief information officer for Merck’s health-care division.”


Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal here.