Collaborative E-Commerce: Shaping the Future of Partnerships in the Healthcare Industry

18 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Robert E. Spekman

Robert E. Spekman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Anwar Harahsheh

affiliation not provided to SSRN


The purpose of this case is to provide insight into the dynamics of the pharmaceutical industry and to offer one view of the changing business model in the industry. What was once a vertically integrated business model for the large drug manufacturers has now been supplanted by contract manufacturers and other intermediaries that have changed the nature of competition. Cardinal has become far more than a drug wholesaler and this case attempts to shed light on the range of services it can offer to increase its share of the overall value chain from drug discovery, through FDA trials and approval, to marketing and sales of these drugs.





At the leadership team meeting on May 22, 2001, Gary Dowdy, vice president of e-commerce, was presenting to Kathy White, executive vice president and chief information officer for Cardinal Health, Inc, the latest initiative to develop a collaborative e-commerce platform for the Pharmaceutical Technologies & Service group (PTS). PTS, a subsidiary of Cardinal Health, was established to help pharmaceutical companies bring their new products to market. Dowdy envisioned a collaborative e-commerce platform to help reduce the time-to-market for pharmaceutical drugs. This platform would allow large and small companies to benefit from Cardinal Health's resources and collaborate in all phases of the drug development process and beyond. The collaborative e-commerce platform promotes timely communications and better access to information. It also complies with FDA regulations for document exchange, and gives better visibility to partners in all drug discovery stages including design, drug delivery mechanisms, compound discovery projects, clinical trials, and test progress and application procedures.

Dowdy needed to resolve certain issues about the program before White would commit resources. She needed answers to the following questions: How can the collaborative e-commerce platform increase Cardinal Health's market share in its total services to drug manufacturers? What is the value proposition of the collaborative e-commerce platform? How does it add value beyond what PTS currently offers to its customers? More importantly, White wanted to know if this was the right time to launch an e-commerce platform. She expressed this concern because of the downward trend in e-commerce and the fact that McKesson, Cardinal Health's largest competitor, announced that it was pulling the plug on its unprofitable online venture iMckesson.


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Keywords: pharmaceuticals, alliances, outsourcing, e-commerce

Suggested Citation

Spekman, Robert E. and Harahsheh, Anwar, Collaborative E-Commerce: Shaping the Future of Partnerships in the Healthcare Industry. Darden Case No. UVA-M-0661, Available at SSRN:

Robert E. Spekman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4860 (Phone)


Anwar Harahsheh

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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