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Technology and big data to drive innovation in the pharmaceutical industry in 2023

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As we take look back over the past year and reflect on what we have achieved, it’s also important that we look ahead to new challenges and opportunities that may arise in 2023. We have seen remarkable innovation across the industry in 2022, from big break throughs in treatment and improvements to patient outcomes, to how the industry is working with big data and technology. But it’s fair to say that these achievements came paired with just as many challenges including a continued talent shortage, hangovers from the pandemic, increasing pressures to innovate and ongoing macroeconomic challenges.

As we head into 2023, I expect these existing challenges to continue alongside new ones, but I also anticipate more opportunities to present themselves. At Pharamanovia, we predict that the key trends set to catalyze the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries in 2023 include break through innovations, technology, big data, sustainability, ongoing policy changes and a shift in investment due to inflation.

Utilising big data and tech

Technology has been recognised as one of the industry’s biggest tools for many years, and I don’t expect to see the pace of how we use technology in healthcare and pharma to slow down any time soon. In 2023, I expect that we will see further automation in the way we work, with an increase in digital engagement and healthcare providers leveraging remote access further.

From a pharmaceutical perspective, technology is not only improving how we deliver medicine but also enabling us to find ways to reduce side effects. For example, we collaborated with an innovative pharma tech company to in-license a new delivery mechanism for an existing medicine – all thanks to advances in technology.  We will continue to see more and more technology developed in 2023 to improve clinical outcomes and enable existing medicines to evolve and meet the needs of patients.

Alongside technology comes data, and the more technology we use in the industry the more data we will collect. Although big data is not a new theme, it is something that, as an industry, we’re becoming more familiar with – especially when it comes to processing data at large volumes to unlock invaluable insights.

In 2023, we will really start see the true value big data can bring to the industry. The insights provided by data will allow us to not only understand what is working well, but also help us to identify alternative solutions and improvements.

Data can also facilitate a way for companies to assess their overall performance, and by using the insight provided by data, business leaders can make informed decisions that will ultimately help them gain a competitive advantage.

Macro environment creating a year of two halves

Following a turbulent year with inflation pressures impacting businesses across the globe, I expect 2023 to be a year of two halves, we are likely to see continued pricing pressure across the industry as suppliers seek to increase prices across the supply chain to mitigate inflation pressures – making it more important to ensure resilience is built into business practices. The risk of additional supply chain congestion resulting from a renewed Covid-19 wave hitting China could further exacerbate inflationary pressure in the first half.

Those companies impacted by patent expiry on blockbuster medicines and larger wage inflation bills are also likely to have a tougher time and we are entering a period of unprecedented scale of loss of exclusivity. However, I do expect to see a more stable environment later in the year and this could see a flurry of investment activity in pharma – which in turn can boost innovation.

Sustainability will continue to drive the agenda

Sustainability has been topping the agenda for the past couple of years and it will continue to do so for many years to come. We are seeing more pharmaceutical tender processes include ESG criteria than ever before.

In 2022, one of the big sustainability objectives for us at Pharmanovia, was moving from air to sea freight. We’ve already seen significant carbon footprint reductions as a result, and I expect more and more companies to follow us in announcing sustainability objectives like this in 2023. We’re also continuing to look at package size reduction and shelf-life extension projects to reduce the number of medicines unnecessarily thrown away each year.

Not only will we see more sustainability objectives announced at an individual company level, but I expect sustainability to feature more heavily at a policy level. This can only be a good thing especially when considering the introduction of more supportive legislation that encourages the industry to look at continuous improvement of areas such as shelf-life extensions, new indications in existing medicines and reformulations to reduce side effects or improve efficacy (or both).

Overcoming challenge

If the industry continues with the pace of innovation that we have seen over the past 12 months, there is an opportunity to not only overcome challenge but to also create opportunity for growth. I always liked the Marcus Aurelius quote, ‘the impediment to action advances action’, and certainly believe that 2023 is set to be a challenging but exciting year for the industry and I look forward to seeing what innovation and industry breakthroughs we can achieve together in 2023.

By James Burt 

James Burt is chief executive officer at Pharmanovia.

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Current Issue March 2024

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