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5 Ways the Pharmaceutical Industry Is Changing

Traditionally speaking, the pharmaceutical industry has been slow to adopt new technologies and new ideas. There are several factors behind this: heavy regulations, IP issues, manufacturing complexity, high profit margins, and a general aversion to risk in the industry overall. A single decision to adopt a new technology or leadership paradigm can cost considerable time and money in terms of research, validation, and qualification.

But an overall shift in how we think about business, even over the events of the last twelve months, have accelerated the adoption of new technologies and business models. Here are a few ways the pharmaceutical industry is changing.

1. Digital Transformation

The ongoing development of sophisticated digital technology and disruptive events like the COVID-19 pandemic have made an impact on businesses across the board, and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. Many pharma companies are beginning to see the advantage in embracing developing digital trends.

This transformation is largely driven by an increased focus on the customer -- today's consumers are more sophisticated, empowered, and choosy than ever before, and pursuing a more digitally centered strategy is one way pharma companies can distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace.

Whether it's something as relatively simple as offering more information and services via websites, focusing more on digital means of communication to cater to younger customers, or providing 3D rendered videos that explain complex therapies and drug effects, providing more digital services can help pharma companies reach more customers and help secure their relevance well into the future.

2. Greater Use of Artificial Intelligence

One particular way pharmaceutical companies are embracing emerging technologies is in the field of artificial intelligence. More companies are now using AI and machine learning to assist in the discovery and development of new drugs. AI is also being used to address issues such as automation, optimization of manufacturing, and even marketing.

Big pharma is also learning to use big data and AI algorithms to aid in identifying patient cohorts for drug discovery and clinical trials. Switching to AI for this process could potentially save thousands of hours compared to more traditional methods. AI will continue to make this process not only faster, but cheaper.

3. A Shift Towards Precision Medicine

Big data is also driving the shift toward precision (or personalized) medicine. Precision medicine aims to provide better results through analyzing the differences between patients (such as genetics, age, other demographics, etc.) to not only find the right drug for them, but also glean valuable data on how those drugs are absorbed and responded to. Researchers can then use that data to reduce side effects, shorten treatment periods, and improve a patient's response rate.

Tailoring individually customized drug therapy to a patient's specific needs not only carries huge potential benefits to the patient, but also paves the way for companies to become more efficient in the development and marketing of pharmaceuticals. Individualized treatments can not only provide more successful treatment (thus saving costs), but can also predict (and detect) susceptibility to disorders.

4. Expanding Leadership Roles

Technology isn't the only area in which the pharmaceutical industry is evolving. The disruptions wrought by the pandemic have also led to a shift in how companies perceive leadership and collaboration. The cultural tribulations of recent years have brought a renewed focus on moral values and humanity, and questioning whether certain decisions are in the best interest of the patient or merely pursuing profitability. Companies are also focusing more on the needs and safety.

Other developments, such as the restriction (or elimination) of face-to-face contact between pharma representatives and healthcare providers, has driven companies to find newer and more stable means of collaborating and working more closely with service providers, regulators, and stakeholders.

This shift in business and leadership models have opened doors for those looking to pursue a career in healthcare administration to take the lead and help embrace these changes in how pharmaceutical companies do business.

5. Embracing Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies have long been a source of contention in the pharmaceutical industry. On one side, there is the perception that alternative medicine is generally untested, possibly dangerous, ineffective, and / or a scam. On the other is the idea that big pharmaceutical companies are threatened by the use of alternative medicine because it's a threat to the bottom line.

The pharma industry in the West has traditionally lagged behind in terms of embracing alternative medicine, even those used and trusted for centuries in non-Western countries. But developments like the widespread change in the legality of CBDs have seen an accelerated acceptance of more non-traditional medicine and therapies. This has led to increased funding for alternative medicine worldwide, with the potential for bigger, more traditional pharmaceutical companies to embrace the trend and secure a part of a rapidly emerging market.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the edtiors or the management of EconoTimes

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