Research and innovation in internet of things in the pharmaceutical sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of IoT patent applications in the industry stood at 99 in the three months ending November – down from 181 over the same period last year.

Figures for patent grants related to IoT followed a similar pattern to filings – shrinking from 180 in the three months ending November last year to 101 this year.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

IoT is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Johnson & Johnson was the top internet of things innovator in the pharmaceutical sector in the last quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 63 IoT related patents in the three months ending November. That was down from 96 over the same period last year.

It was followed by the United States based Merck & Co Inc with 14 IoT patent applications, the United States based Gilead Sciences Inc (14 applications), and Germany based Bayer AG (12 applications).

Merck & Co Inc has recently ramped up R&D in internet of things. It saw growth of 14.3% in related patent applications in the three months ending November compared to the same period last year - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the pharmaceutical sector.