New model for drug monitoring


In the middle of his dissertation work, Thomas Cars realised that both authorities and pharmaceutical companies needed the knowledge he had developed – a scientific model for the monitoring of new drugs. The first customers are now testing the model, which analyses benefit and efficacy, adverse reactions, and cost-effectiveness.

Thomas Cars is now combining his researcher role with the role of CEO of the new company Sence Research.

Thomas Cars is a pharmacist who earned his PhD in autumn 2016. In the first part of his dissertation, he examined whether it would be possible to extract drug data from medical records in a meaningful way, in this case from the TakeCare system of the Stockholm County Council. The focus was on new biologics administered at the hospital. It turned out that it was possible.

It was during the second part of this dissertation that Thomas Cars, along with his supervisor Johan Sundström, Professor at the Department of Medical Sciences, realised that they were on the right track towards something in demand. As work progressed, the analysis model was developed.

“The clinical trials before a drug is approved are indispensable when it comes to studying the efficacy of the drug. But, in reality the users often turn out to be a broader and more complex group than initially envisioned. Careful monitoring of drugs after they reach the market is therefore needed,” explains Thomas Cars.

In his opinion, the current monitoring is rather deficient, despite the fact that there is an incredible amount of data in medical records and various healthcare registries that could be used to improve quality in the healthcare sector.

The innovation in the work of Thomas Cars and Johan Sundström is a predefined sequential monitoring model, where a new drug is monitored regularly from the date it is launched on the market. In this way, evidence is created on a running basis. The intention is for authorities, pharmaceutical companies and county councils to work together in a transparent process to reach an agreement on structured monitoring even before the drug starts being sold.

“Naturally, it is the authorities who set requirements. But, we think it is important for the pharmaceutical companies to also be invited to take part in the dialogue and contribute their knowledge about the drug. By agreeing in advance what must be monitored and how this should be done, we create better conditions for everyone to be able to trust the results,” says Thomas Cars.

The Swedish Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency, TLV, is one of the authorities testing the analysis model through a collaboration with Uppsala University.

“At present, about half of the drugs approved by the TLV are granted conditional subsidy. The conditions need to be evaluated regularly, and the TLV is looking for a model suitable for this.”

Last year, Thomas Cars and Johan Sundström started the company Sence Research AB to reach out with their offering. Since then, they have hired one additional employee, pharmacist Matilda Almstedt. Thomas Cars, who worked in the national pharmacy up until the deregulation of the system and then worked as part of the Stockholm County Council's system, finds it incredibly exciting to now promote and develop his own idea.

“The greatest driving force for me is my desire to ensure that the right patient gets the right medicine,” he says.

UU Innovation helps to build business skills

“Contact with UU Innovation was key to the start-up of Sence Research AB,” explains Thomas Cars.

“In particular, they helped us identify and eliminate risks. Protecting and processing data securely are paramount issues for us because the drug monitoring model processes healthcare data.”

For this reason, Sence Research AB chose to gain ISO certification in an information security management system.

“We may be a small company, but we want to grow. So, it feels good to have done this.”

The next step is to connect with a business coach via UIC. At the same time, work continues to make the product even better.

“I will always have one foot in the research world, and I will continue my efforts to further develop the analysis model,” says Thomas Cars.