Pharmaceutical (Pharma) industry is a set of public and private organizations that discover, develop, and manufacture drugs and medications (pharmaceuticals). The 19th century is the beginning of the modern era of the pharmaceutical industry, because then it started focusing on chemical synthesis. Prior to that, for thousands of years people relied on medicinal properties of plants, animals, and minerals. The 20th century marks the unification of chemistry and physiology, which increased the understanding of basic drug-discovery processes. Today the pharmaceutical industry discovers myriad of drugs to prevent and treat even most complicated illnesses, while facing challenges of attaining regulatory approvals, confidentiality and pressure from patients.
The pharmaceutical industry invests more of its top line earnings into R&D than any other industry – roughly 15%. However pharma industry is still known as slow adopter of innovation. The reason is, that pharmaceutical industry is overly regulated, in order to ensure that medications are safe to consume. Furthermore, most of pharma companies have extremely strict internal policies, which restrict them from sharing the data with the others. It slows down the processes dramatically.
Innovation Thought Leaders Ronald Jonash and Hitendra Patel in one of their Innovation management and strategy books Healthovate! highlight:
In these times of rapid changes, for Pharma companies it is not enough to focus solely on selling drugs and medications. Today the industry aims for more holistic approach with integrated services, customization and changes in life-styles. It leads to the trends, to which Pharma companies either have to respond to, or then to vanish. Top 10 Innovation Trends in Pharmaceutical Industry is an exquisite opportunity to learn how Pharma Industry is shifting to more digitized, customized and personalized era.
Scroll down to find out what are the Top 10 Innovation Trends that are shaping Pharmaceutical Industry.
Prevention Over Treatment
For ages, people were looking for a magic pill that could cure various illnesses and safe lives of millions. The trends of healthy life style, fashion of healthy-looks and unlimited data, enabled people to prevent certain diseases, if they adjust their life-style. This echoed on Pharmaceutical Industry as well. Now more than ever before, pharma companies offer supplements and pills for the sake of prevention: today if certain illnesses cannot be yet treated, some symptoms or fatal consequences still can be prevented. One of the most recent examples is Truvada pill for PReP by Gilead: a pill to prevent HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a method to noticeably decrease the chances of getting infected, when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body.
Turning Back To Nature: Biological Labs
'Pharmacy’ as a term comes from Greek word ‘pharmakia’, which means drugs. In Ancient Greece, pharmacy was about studying the medicinal properties of plants. It is the matter of great advancements in chemistry, which caused pharmaceutical industry shifting from exploring the plants, to working with specific elements and synthesized materials. Therefore today pharmacy is considered to be “the science or practice of the preparation and dispensing of medicinal drugs.” A few years back, some scientists noticed, that pharmaceutical industry tends to overlook the diversity and the variety of the natural world. Plants are the source of food and they give us the oxygen. Furthermore, plants are the source of biologically active ingredients, which, if explored, could bring us important knowledge of treating and preventing many illnesses. This trend has started in countries like Mauritius, which have broad diversity of distinctive plants. This initiative is supported by the president of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib.
According to Vijay Govindarajan, Reverse Innovation is any innovation, which is likely to be adopted first in the developing world. Upon adoption of the Reverse Innovation in emerging world, it gets distributed globally. Reverse innovation may provide another solution of choice to address the huge R&D costs in the so-called developed countries. Reverse innovation is a response to numerous challenges, that Pharma Industry is facing now: such as a slowdown in successful innovations, increasing research costs, decreasing revenues due to patent expirations, and the huge expense to bring a drug to the market as a result of enhanced regulatory hurdles.
Crowdsourcing the Solutions: Empowered and Know-How Patients
Looking for solutions to treat various medical conditions and illnesses, is not anymore only in the hands of pharmaceutical companies. With a broad data availability, today the patients can seek for additional sources of information, and therefore they don't rely anymore only on what is provided by pharmaceutical companies and their R&D departments. It creates an opportunity for the empowered patients to take responsibility for their health and find the solution that would help with their illnesses or other medical conditions. There are even such cases, when some patients risk their own health and acquire the tech companies/ pharma companies to run with them various tests in order to fasten up the processes to find the cure. Instance of empowered patient is amazingly illustrated with the example of company called Solid Biosciences, which attempts to manage the medical condition called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. “There is no cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and there is only one treatment on the market that is approved for a small subset of patients. Solid is purpose-built to identify and develop the most promising approaches to address the disease at all stages” – says Ilan Ganot, the founder of the company and the father of the son, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Syndrome.
Open Innovation VS. Confidentiality
Given that pharmaceutical industry is eminently regulated, it is natural that confidentiality plays a critical role. In general, pharma companies do not share the information with the others; it is all locked internally and limited with the non-disclosure agreements. This level of confidentiality means the lack of openness among pharma companies, especially, when it comes to most complicated illnesses. It causes high cost of R&D, experimentation and drugs. In order to tackle this problem, it winds up in developing Open Innovation practices, such as Structural Genomics Consortium. Structural Genomics Consortium has a strategy of extreme openness. They are in partnership with pharmaceutical companies and labs at six universities, including Oxford, the University of Toronto, and UNC Chapel Hill. Among these partners information is shared openly: drug wish lists, results in open access journals, and experimental samples. This openness is expected to speed up the long, expensive drug design process even for toughest tough diseases.
Nanotechnology in a drug is a buzz-topic for already over 20 years. By definition, Nanotechnology is a multi-disciplinary, scientific effort, which involves creation and utilization of essence devises or system on Nanometer scale. A medical application of nanotechnology is called nanomedicine. A lot of professionals from Pharma Industry hope that Nanotechnology is going to unleash breakthroughs in genetic engineering, medicine, diagnosis and in various types of dosage forms in pharmacy. One out of many nanomedicine examples is Genexol-PM by Samyang – the anticancer nanomedicine. Genexol-PM fights the breast cancer and non-small lung cancer. It is a sterile, lyophilized polymeric micellar formulation of paclitaxel that employs a colloidal carrier system to allow intravenous delivery of paclitaxel. There is a hope, that soon we will live the time, when we are able to have a heart surgery by swallowing a pill of nanorobots.
Personalized Medicine and Customization
At the moment we buy drugs that have been designed for millions of people, without taking into account everyone’s genetic differences. In the nearest future, the patient will enter pharmacy and based on patient’s medical records and examinations, the pharmacist will print out the customized drugs and will suggest the additional treatments. In fact, this is not a new thing in healthcare; when patient has a muscle stretch, he/she gets personalized physiotherapy plan. Now same thing is about to happen in Pharma Industry. At the moment, this practice is getting adopted mostly by oncology and genetic diseases focused pharma companies.
3D Printing in Pharma goes along with the trend of personalized medicine and customization. With the rapid development of 3D printers and their adaptation for Pharma Industry, soon patients and pharmacists will be able to print out needed medicine at any time and under any circumstances. In fact, already in 2015, was printed the first drug by 3D printer. The drug is called Spritam (ownership belongs to pharmaceutical company Aprecia) and is meant to manage the epilepsy. Officially it is the first 3D-printed product that the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has approved for use inside the human body. Spritam pill is made by 3D-printing layers of the powdered drug, binding the layers of powder together, and then blowing away the excess powder. The drug’s unique structure allows it to dissolve considerably faster than the average pill, which is a big help to seizure sufferers who often are prescribed large, hard-to-swallow pills.
Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computers
With the help of Artificial Intelligence and cognitive computers, people are able to gather and classify un-imaginable amounts of information in seconds. This tackles the problem, that the current drug discovery process is too lengthy and very expensive. Using Artificial Intelligence and cognitive computers, Pharma companies finally will be able to run cognitive trials in seconds instead of a decades or for longer periods of time. Further more, this shorter time of testing will save up billions of dollars , which will have an impact on decreasing the drug prices. Now patients who live in hope to get their drug on time, will be able to get it much sooner. Further more, this could be the end of animal or human experimentation. The example here is the company called BenevolentBio. They have developed the Artificial Intelligence based Judgement Correlation System (JACS), which is able to review billions of sentences and paragraphs from millions of scientific research papers and abstracts.
Following the trend of Artificial Intelligence (AI), there is stepping in the trend of body sensors. Integrated body chips, wearables, digital tattoos, mini robots and the other body sensors can obtain the information of the patient and send it immediately to the healthcare professionals, which can immediately indicate what drugs are required. This allows us making informed decisions. As an example, company Emulate develops the Organs-on-Chips technology, to create an integrated system that provides a high-fidelity window into the inner-workings of the human body. The system integrates micro-engineering with living human cells, offering a new method of modeling human biology. It offers researchers and product development teams a new standard for predicting human response, with greater precision and control than today’s cell-culture or animal-based testing approaches.
The list of the Top 10 Innovation Trends in Pharmaceutical Industry
– Prevention Over Treatment
– Turning Back to Nature: Biological Labs
– Reverse Innovation
– Crowd-sourcing the Solutions: Empowered and Know-How Patients
– Open Innovation
– Nano Technology
– Personalized Medicine and Customization
– 3D Printing
– Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computers
– Body Sensors