Monday, December 31, 2012

SAS programmers are preventing cost-cutting reforms

If the pharmaceutical industry wants cost-efficiency reforms in statistical programming services, by raising worker productivity, they must evaluate, test, and use alternatives to the SAS programming language.

The pharmaceutical industry has tried to solve this worker productivity problem over the past two decades by writing one SAS MACRO library, after another, after another. When the latest library doesn't solve the productivity problem, write another library. This approach does not work. (How has the cost per statistical table in a Clinical Study Report changed from 1990 to 2012, if at all?)

Senior pharmaceutical SAS programmers do not want any non-SAS product design to be examined, tested, or used. That is their position today, and has been their position for decades. The logical conclusion is that pharmaceutical SAS programmers are preventing cost-efficiency reforms.

The Vilno Table programming language gives much higher worker productivity for complex statistical table production than the SAS programming language does, often a table that needs 400 lines of SAS code needs less than 20 lines of Vilno Table code (and the logic of the Vilno code is also easier to read). That's not a typo: you reduce the amount of code you have to write by 20 times (400 divide by 20 = 20)! Higher worker productivity leads to lower costs.

The evidence, logical arguments, and illustrative examples showing this are rock solid.

The response of most (but not all) senior pharmaceutical SAS programmers is, for all practical purposes:
"We don't care. And we prefer you not talk."

With a few exceptions, the response is apathy, silence, and in a few cases more obvious obstructionism and censorship (moderators of professional internet forums such as PharmaSUG and PhUSE have the power to censor). And they don't have a counterargument that makes logical sense. (But some will say "You can write a macro for that" but not provide the macro library external APIs).

Pharmaceutical shareholders would benefit from such a change. Pharmaceutical SAS programmers do not want change.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robert, is there a way to get in touch with you ?