7 Major Pharma Advances and How the Industry is Adapting

By Jacob Vazquez | July 23, 2020

“One of the biggest challenges to medicine is the incorporation of information technology in our practices.” — Samuel Wilson

Industries are changing at a faster pace than ever before. Due to the increasing commercialization of products and services, technology is playing a more critical role in R&D, marketing and advertising, sales, and distribution.

In the pharmaceutical sector, research and development was the first area to go through such transformations a few years ago. Other divisions will undergo similar changes over the next few decades.

Here are some major industry trends that will shape pharma over the next ten years:

1. Artificial Intelligence

Over the next decade, humans may no longer be pharmaceutical test subjects. Instead, cognitive computers will be used in biotechnology and genomic research.

The likely impact of using cognitive computers will be enormous. The ability to analyze large sets of data will be giving life-sciences, and pharma companies brand new intelligence that was not available before. AI and cognitive computers are making a massive impact on healthcare decisions and patients. 

For instance, when drug companies engage in the process of bringing new drugs to the market, they run clinical trials on human subjects to test the efficacy and safety of these products. Running these studies is extremely costly and time-consuming, sometimes lasting from a few months to several years. 

With AI and cognitive computers, this process will be much shorter and more streamlined. Instead of having to wait several months to see the effect of a particular drug, it’ll take seconds to evaluate the impact of thousands of medications on billions of simulations of the human body’s physiology.

If you think this is a far-fetched idea, think again. There’s already a supercomputer program called Atomwise that can search through existing medicines to repurpose to more effectively treat diseases. 

This type of molecular structure search and analysis would typically take months, if not years. In 2015, Atomwise identified two drugs, in less than 24 hours that could slow down the spread of the Ebola virus. 

3D rendering medical artificial intelligence robot working in future hospital. Futuristic prosthetic healthcare for patient and biomedical technology concept.

2. Digitalization of Medicine

Every business realizes that a product or service isn’t enough. Companies must offer a complete package, and this package should be digitally friendly.

In the pharmaceutical industry, this trend is rising so rapidly that there’s a name for it: ‘Around the pill’ digital offerings.

These offerings include everything from digital health apps to services and devices that can be bundled with the prescription. As this trend becomes more popular, it will prove to be a game-changer when it comes to pharmaceutical marketing and advertising

3. Body Sensors

Body sensors are a new technology that’s currently still in clinical trials. These sensors can either be placed on or inside the body. Their primary function is to measure various critical vital signs.

One sensor that’s already in widespread use is a digestible sensor. These types of sensors are typically embedded in pills. Digestible sensors record how well a medication is digested and absorbed by the body.

Digestible sensors are especially useful in overseeing prescription adherence with schizophrenia, major depressive disorders, and bipolar disorder.

Physicians analyzing body sensor results on laptop.

4. 3D-Printing

2015 marked the moment in history when 3D-printing technology was used for the first time to manufacture medication. As this manufacturing method begins to gain popularity, it will radically transform how the pharmaceutical industry operates. 

In about ten years, hospitals and pharmacies may have the capability to print in-house the pills that they need.

Additionally, the University College of London is testing ways to print pills in fun shapes for kids, making it easier for them to take. This trend is a potential commercial goldmine.

For those B2B companies that are involved in the sales, sales operations, and the marketing of pharmaceuticals, these new trends could open many doors in terms of new forms of revenue and profits.

Doctor with stethoscope touching the digital icons

5. Personalization & Precision of Medicine

New domains of pharmaceuticals are opening up, and over the next decade, they will only continue to grow. It’s becoming less expensive and more commercially available for patients with various diseases to get precision medical treatment.

Thus, more money is flowing into pharmaceutical research to discover how to make medications more targeted (e.g., how certain drugs could attack cancer cells and avoid attacking the other cells).

It’s also becoming more affordable for patients to work with companies like myDNA. MyDNA, and others like it, analyzes a patient’s DNA to identify which medications will be most effective for a specific treatment plan.

It’s likely that over the coming years, medicines and their dosages will become unique to each patient. This personalization of medicine will allow drug companies to manufacture medications to meet individual patient needs, instead of making drugs for millions of people with an “average” or “median” DNA and molecular makeup in mind. 

Precision medicine being used to analyze persons health.

6. AR and VR

Augmented reality is slowly creeping into every aspect of our lives, and that includes pharmaceuticals. Some pharmaceutical companies are looking into ways to allow patients to better connect with their prescriptions by translating the descriptions on the bottle into 3D.

Instead of having to read nearly incomprehensible pamphlets on how the drug works, patients could be more engaged with a visual AR demonstration.

According to some forecasts, Virtual Reality (VR) will flourish if the pharmaceutical industry pursues and invests in the technology. In pharmacy, VR can have multiple potential applications. Some of these are in drug design and discovery, pharmacist education, and patient counseling. 

Physician using VR to look at DNA.

7. Patient Involvement

With the widespread use of technology and innovation in healthcare, patients are gaining more power. They are no longer afraid to speak up when it comes to their body and their health. Healthcare consumers are now in the driver seat, and pharma companies must respond to these trends by considering patients’ needs, thoughts, and desires.

It is indisputable that products will be more successful if patients are involved in their creation and distribution. It’s likely that over the coming years, many companies in the pharmaceutical industry will create patient advisory boards. Several healthcare conferences already involve patients by inviting them to help organize the events or asks them to participate by becoming a speaker. 

The pharmaceutical industry is changing on multiple levels. To survive and thrive in this environment, companies in the industry need to explore and invest in the latest technological innovations.

To learn how P360 can provide your pharma company with the necessary advanced technology to ensure success far into the future, click below to chat with one of our experts.