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Protecting privacy in a data-driven world

Posted by
Peter Keohane, Privacy and Data Protection
Data is everywhere in modern medicine. Big data promises to transform epilepsy care, clinical researchers are generating valuable information about medicines, and healthcare professionals are using electronic records to manage their patients in a smarter way. Investigating new therapies through genetic research is one of our newest – and perhaps most promising – endeavours.

28 January is Data Privacy Day – an international awareness initiative designed to promote data privacy education. Originally designed to encourage vigilance among younger people sharing personal information online, the day is now relevant to all of us. The educational focus has extended to families, consumers and businesses.

As a company dedicated to finding new treatment options for severe diseases UCB has many interactions with patients, health professionals and the wider public through market research, assistance programmes and adverse event reporting. And when it comes to research data, UCB is committed to transparency while safeguarding individual patient privacy.

We have clear principles for our employees involved in collecting, processing, storing and sharing personal data. This is essential to complying with our legal obligations, but also to meet the expectations of the people with whom we interact.

This year’s Data Privacy Day comes at an important time. A new privacy law in the EU - the General Data Protection Regulation - is expected to receive formal approval by the EU Parliament within the next three months, marking the first major shift in European data privacy regulation since 1995. As a European company headquartered in Belgium, UCB will be subject to these new regulations, which will have implications for data-driven research, clinical studies, and personal data as a whole.

This year will also see UCB fully adopt a new set of privacy compliance standards called Binding Corporate Rules. These will provide guideposts to ensure we meet legal obligations and public expectations.

Data can be a powerful tool but, like any source of power, must be used, shared and protected wisely. UCB’s commitment is to endeavour to get the most out of the opportunities that lie ahead while protecting and respecting privacy.

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