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9  Pharma Trends you must know in 2021

9 Pharma Trends you must know in 2021

India is the world's third-largest producer of pharmaceuticals by volume and the fourteenth-largest by value.

With a robust network of 3,000 pharmaceuticals businesses and 10,500 production units, the country has a well-established domestic pharmaceutical sector. 

This industry is now going through a significant transformation lately, especially post COVID-19.

It is taking initiatives to achieve more seamless integration of digital innovations and emerging technologies for improved patient-centricity and business outcomes.

It has compelled businesses to rethink their business practices on several levels. We are seeing the quick rise of disruptive and developmental pharmaceutical business trends as the penetration and use of digital technology increases to fill in holes in old working paradigms. 

But first, let's take a look at some factors driving innovation in the Pharma Industry:

  • More investment 
  • Expansion of technological startups
  • The expiration of numerous key patents
  • Increased inter-organizational cooperation 
  • Favourable regulatory environment

The current trends that are driving the Pharma Industry are:

  1. Accelerating Digital Transformation
  2. Automation in Supply Chain
  3. Greater Focus on R&D Value
  4. Additive Manufacturing
  5. Artificial Intelligence
  6. Precision Medicine
  7. Big Data & Analytics
  8. Blockchain
  9. Flexible Production

1. Accelerating Digital Transformation

The Digital Revolution in the pharmaceutical industry was already underway even before Covid shook the whole world. But many of the industry's main activities had to relocate abruptly into the virtual sphere due to pandemic conditions. 

Pharma needs to take advantage of digital's real-time data gathering capabilities, including more holistic, patient-centred value into customised products and services.

Simultaneously, it must avoid violating prohibitions on direct-to-patient medicine promotion or compromising the traditional role of healthcare professionals as patient confidants and gatekeepers of care.

Digital technologies can supplement by overcoming physical barriers to connection, extending the healthcare dialogue, easing information flow with patients, boosting treatment adherence, or enabling educated self-management of chronic conditions.

With this acceleration of digitalization and technology, Venwiz, a service vendor discovery platform for manufacturers, aims to digitize the broken and inefficient process of vendor discovery and management in the Pharmaceutical Industry. 

2. Automation in Supply Chain

The Indian Pharma Report by FICCI states that the Pharma supply chains in India are very complex for generic companies.

While sourcing of raw materials, lab chemicals, consumables, etc. is from multiple countries, sales are targeted to multiple countries besides meeting domestic demand.

They also add that Supply chain processes like demand sensing, demand aggregation, running S&OP processes, supply planning and monitoring require sophisticated logic and optimization techniques to bring in the required efficiencies.

So now the pharmaceutical supply chain is becoming increasingly automated.

Technological advancements have an impact on not only medication development but also the medicine supply chain in terms of speed, safety, and personnel. 

Automation technologies are critical for expediting the personalised healthcare supply chain by guaranteeing that the precision required for patient safety is regularly delivered.

Automation in pharma manufacturing can assist develop more resilient and flexible supply chains, as well as cut costs, diversify, and strengthening supply chains. 

The Indian healthcare and pharmaceuticals sector is one of the fastest-growing in the world and is expected to grow by a whopping 754 per cent between 2017 and 2060. (Source: Statista

Patient-centric innovations will propel the pharmaceutical business into the future, providing more robust and diverse growth opportunities.

All the trends are transforming the pharmaceutical sector in profound ways, with both short- and long-term implications.

They will all play a part in how pharmaceutical companies adjust to new problems and possibilities in the near future. The current degree of innovation in the industry is likely to generate enormous value.

3. Greater Focus on R&D Value

India is the third-largest manufacturer of drugs worldwide in terms of production volume, accounting for 10% of the global total.

However, India accounts for only 1.5% of the total value of drugs produced worldwide, making it 14th ranked among manufacturing nations.

This disconnect between India’s relatively high share of volume and low share of value will only be bridged if India intensifies efforts in innovative R&D. - states by the Indian Pharma Report by FICCI.

The pharmaceutical companies are more worried than ever before about ensuring that their research and development efforts are successful.

To address the requirements of patients while simultaneously safeguarding the bottom line, there is an attempt to improve efficacy and efficiency.  

For example, there is research underway to identify medicines that can improve patients' experiences and quality of life in more meaningful ways.

Pharmaceutical businesses have had to reassess their research and development procedures to ensure they are polished and focused as a result of this.

4. Additive Manufacturing

Pharmaceutical companies are rethinking their manufacturing processes as a result of the requirement for precision medicine.

A lot of effort is being put into developing powerful 3D printers capable of producing tissues or cells. Drug discovery, organ engineering, and regenerative medicine all benefit from the 3D printing of human tissues.

This enables the creation of medical formulations that are age or physiology dependent, as well as precision tablets. 

Bioprinters also aid in the advancement of bioinks, tissue engineering, and microfluidics research.

Mahesh Makhija, partner, technology consulting, EY, quotes “India has seen increasing adoption of 3D printing technologies with growth rates over 30% year-on-year across materials. The industry has evolved from being a prototyping tech to end use production, with metal AM (additive manufacturing) leading the course."

The global healthcare additive manufacturing market size was valued at USD 1.34 billion in 2020 and is estimated to register a rapid compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.8%. (Source: Grand View Research

5. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are being used to speed up medical research and development.

Startups are experimenting with the use of these technologies to solve a variety of problems in the pharmaceutical industry, including manufacturing process automation and optimization, as well as establishing effective marketing and post-launch strategies.

Patient identification is crucial in the discovery and development of medications, particularly in clinical trials.

AI facilitates the process of determining eligibility criteria and enrolling patients, as well as making cohort identification faster and less expensive.

AI-driven efficiency improvements in R&D, sales, marketing, and manufacturing would benefit pharma significantly.

AI has the potential to save more than US$70 billion in drug discovery costs by 2028. (Source: Bekryl) As algorithms for target selection, lead optimization, and clinical-trial enrollment become more established R&D processes, there would be many ancillary benefits for pharmaceutical technology businesses.

Suneela Thatte, Vice President & Head, R & D Solutions, IQVIA India says that "Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data have been creating a buzz in the pharma and life sciences industry for quite some time now and AI tools are highly attractive to the industry. The demand for faster and better drug development brought on by the pandemic is only going to accelerate the adoption of such technologies." 

6. Precision Medicine

When medication is created based on a specific patient diagnosis, it is referred to as precision medicine.

The goal is to guarantee that the medicine is personalised for maximum efficacy and positive patient outcomes. Precision medication has been shown to be more effective than other treatment approaches. 

Precision medicine production, in particular, necessitates specialised and smaller facilities than conventional industries.

Despite the difficulties it has caused producers, this is a trend that is projected to continue as the procedures involved get more polished.

The Precision Medicine Market is predicted to reach US$ 114,891 Mn by the end of 2028. (Source: Coherent Market Insights)

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, the most common conditions using personalized medicine today are diabetes (45%), common cancers (38%), and neurological diseases (33%).

These numbers are all set to increase significantly in the near future. (Source: Bloomberg

7. Big Data & Analytics

To correctly analyse and derive value from the huge volumes of data available during the medical research and development process, high-performance systems are required.

Pharmaceutical companies are attempting to sell their sensitive data to third parties, making data management a top priority.

Thanks to developments in analytical techniques, historical and real-time data from pharmaceutical companies are becoming valuable assets for predictive, diagnostic, prescriptive, and descriptive analytics.

Furthermore, these analytics techniques are used in a wide range of medical data, like patient records, medical imaging, and hospital data.  

8. Blockchain

The pharmaceutical business benefits greatly from blockchain technology at every level of medicine development and distribution.

The basic purpose of blockchain technology is to make transactions more convenient while also boosting security and transparency without the need for a third party.

The usage of blockchain technology is also being investigated to combat the use of counterfeit and inferior products, which infiltrate the pharmaceutical supply chain every year and kill thousands of patients. 

When applied by pharmaceutical companies, it can assist enhance efficiency by streamlining operations.

It is a viable tool for tracking and safeguarding the pharma transaction ecosystem due to the digitization of transactions. It can also help researchers and developers achieve better results.

Assystem Care quotes in one of their articles that "Blockchain may offer a new answer to combating counterfeit drugs thanks to enhanced traceability. Pharmaceutical companies believe that their own in-house quality systems meet their needs to pass drug agency inspections. However, with the advent of blockchain technology, it is now possible to more effectively guarantee data integrity. Assystem Care is convinced that the industry will adopt this technology, especially as it is so easy to access. It is even possible that regulatory authorities will ultimately require its use for the most sensitive data”. 

9. Flexible Production

The pharmaceutical industry is experimenting with innovative manufacturing methods, such as small batches for precision medicine, in response to changing market dynamics.

Single-use technology is gaining traction because it reduces downtime and increases productivity by eliminating time-consuming activities like cleaning and validation between phases of production.

Because of the increased focus on biopharmaceuticals, new types of bioreactor systems and continuous manufacturing procedures have been developed.

In addition to reducing downtime, continuous production saves energy usage, boosts productivity, and reduces waste.

Venwiz is trying to use technology to solve a big problem and believes that tech will eventually solve a lot of the Pharmaceutical industry’s problems. It digitises and streamlines end-to-end service engagements for every manufacturer, from discovering and curating the best service vendors to engaging with them and completing jobs more efficiently.

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