Oracle interMedia the prescription for pharmaceutical giant

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is using Oracle Database 10g and Oracle interMedia to power a new clinical image repository that will exceed 100 terabytes by 2008.

Pharmaceuticals and healthcare firm AstraZeneca is using Oracle Database 10g and its AstraZeneca streamline regulatory compliance and clinical trials by making it easier to access and search its terabytes of life sciences and medical images.

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare and pharmaceutical business. The firm generates healthcare sales of about $26.74 billion per year worldwide, officials said. In the United States, they added, AstraZeneca is a $12.45 billion healthcare business with more than 12,000 employees.

In recent years, AstraZeneca found that it was using and storing a growing number of images -- everything from x-rays to microscope slides -- as part of its clinical trial process. But managing the images was becoming an organizational nightmare. That combination of factors led AstraZeneca to Oracle interMedia.

"What we needed here was to make sure that we were dealing with quality image data, so that's more or less how we started making the case for having a repository" said Goutham Edula, AstraZeneca's business lead for clinical imaging informatics.

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According to AstraZeneca, one key goal of the clinical image repository project, which began in early 2006, was to build a scalable system for managing images that is as robust as the firm's system for managing clinical data. AstraZeneca expects the clinical image repository to exceed 100 terabytes of data within the next year.

"We have finished the rollout and we are more or less in the maintenance mode," Edula said. "[That entails taking] care of any bugs which have come up in the development process and addressing any new user requirements that come up as people start using the system."

Oracle interMedia is also helping AstraZeneca more efficiently cope with global regulatory requirements by enabling data standardization and validation, company officials said.

To ensure quality and data integrity, AstraZeneca wanted to store image data securely on a single database as opposed to an outside storage device, which has the potential to lose images during transfer. Oracle interMedia allowed the company to accomplish this goal and perform image processing operations, metadata extraction and thumbnail generation for several image formats, including the DICOM medical image standard, Tag Image File Format (TIFF) and .jpg.

The Oracle Database 10g and interMedia combo allowed AstraZeneca to create a single back end for image storage and flexibility to support multiple workflows in various practice areas, company officials said.

Elisabet Söderhielm, AstraZeneca's leader for the clinical image repository project, added that she has been pleased with Oracle Database's compression and encryption capabilities, which save space and increase security, respectively.

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